A COUPLE guilty of shameful neglect of their children are today named thanks to The Northern Echo.

Gillian Hendry and Craig Dick’s appalling lack of care left a 12-year-old boy blind in one eye.

The Northern Echo:
JAILED: Gillian Hendry and Craig Dick

The couple can be identified after reporting restrictions were lifted by Judge Howard Crowson, following a challenge by the Echo. The judge agreed that reporting the case in full was in the public interest and could prevent a repeat. The boy’s mother, Hendry, and stepfather, Dick, claimed they were too busy to notice his left pupil had turned white. A cataract had developed over at least six months as a result of them not seeking medical help.

The boy and his toddler sister were rescued from the squalor at home by police and social workers last year.

The youngster said he had been suffering sight problems for 18 months.

Hendry and Dick also failed to meet appointments for his arthritis – leaving him with a limp.

Hendry, 34, was jailed for two-and-a-half years, and Dick, 34, got two years and two months. They admitted cruelty.

Following the Echo’s challenge, Judge Crowson said it was important that the boy was not seen to be at fault for anything that happened to him.

He described as “unbelievable” the couple’s claims that they did not notice the eye condition. In interviews with police and probation workers, they insisted they never looked the children in the face.

At Teesside Crown Court, the clearly exasperated judge told the pair: “His pupil was white not black.

“The cataract was visibly obvious for at least six months and it could not be missed. You suggest that you were both extremely busy when neither of you had paid employment and lived on benefits.

“The best interpretation I can put on it is that you are both ashamed and find it difficult to publicly accept what you did.”

The court heard how doctors worried about the boy repeatedly missing appointments contacted social services. Officials visited the couple’s home in Thornaby, near Stockton, in August 2013, but were stopped from entering.

They returned with police and found Hendry and Dick had been hurriedly trying to tidy, said prosecutor David Crook. Officers found: l The bath full of dirty cold water; l The boy’s bed covered in rubbish; l A bedroom had been used as a toilet; l The landing strewn with bin bags; l Open bags containing soiled nappies; l A filthy kitchen full of flies; and l The toddler’s bed covered in mould.

The parents claimed they did not sleep in their bedroom – which was described as being in a “relatively better” condition.

But Judge Crowson pointed out that the photographs showed a television at the bottom of the bed was plugged in.

Peter Wishlade, for Hendry, accepted the dirty conditions – as well as arthritis – put the boy’s sight at risk.

He said: “She can’t give any reason why the house was allowed to get into that state, and why appointments were not kept.

“I don’t know how this has happened. I can’t explain it. This behaviour really is quite remarkable.”

Jim Withyman, for Dick, said: “It is quite clear he is an inadequate man, he will never look after children again.”

He said Dick – who sobbed before and throughout the hearing – had endured a troubled childhood himself.

Judge Crowson said: “The conditions we have seen in the photographs are appalling. To speak of indolence or the particular hygiene standards of yourself really does not explain it.

“It is impossible to use that as an explanation when you tried to prevent the entry of the social services or the police, knowing the state was unacceptable.”