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Parents facing jail sentence for forcing 11 year old son to sleep in a coal bunker

The mother and step father of an 11 year old boy have pleaded guilty at Preston Crown Court to cruelty by wilful neglect.

The boy was forced to live and sleep in the freezing cold and filthy bunker for over a period of a year. He was given a potty to use at night and slept on a stained mattress.

His mother and stepfather claimed that they did this to prevent him from stealing food from the fridge.

The couple were due to be sentenced this week but the Judge said that the evidence was so emotionally charged that he would announce their sentence at Preston Crown Court on Monday next week. In the meantime they have been remanded in custody.

Concerns apparently arose about the boy from January 2011 when his school noticed that he always seemed to be hungry. Upon speaking to his parents, the school were informed that the boy had been caught stealing food from the freezer. When the boy was later threatened with being sent home from school for bad behaviour he became hysterical and begged teachers not to.

The school referred the family to social services who along with the police visited the family. Upon asking to see the boy, they were led to a door in the lounge and upon opening this, it revealed the boy in the concrete room asleep on the mattress. Social workers described the room as a cell with scratch marks on the walls and exposed electrical wires. The boy was taken from the home that day and put into local authority care.

Undoubtedly the boy has suffered psychological damage as a result of the neglect and treatment of his mother and step-father.

The abuse team at Bolt Burdon Kemp act for a number of clients who have suffered neglect at the hands of their parents. Normally these claims are brought against social services in negligence for failing to remove the children from their parents’ care. In this case thankfully it appears that social services acted swiftly upon discovery of the boy’s living conditions.

If the parents’ in this case have any assets then it may be possible to bring a claim for compensation against them for the psychological damage that he has suffered as a result of the neglect. The boy has until the age of 21 to bring a claim and as a minor he would need to be represented by a Litigation Friend to conduct proceedings on his behalf.

If you think you have been the victim of neglect by either a family member or social services and would like to discuss your case, please contact one of the members of the abuse team.

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