A DARLINGTON couple have been spared jail after pleading guilty to causing ill-treatment and neglect to six children found in an 'extremely unsafe' home.

The man, 23, and woman, 30, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the children, appeared at Teesside Crown Court for sentencing on Wednesday after previously pleading guilty to neglecting six youngsters - who range in age from infants to 15-years-old - over a six month period in 2019.

The court heard how police officers were called to a property in Darlington on May 6, 2019 and found both defendants drunk, while the children were left to fend for themselves in the unsafe and filthy home.

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“The officer attending described it as extremely unsafe,” the prosecutor told the court. “The front door was in a state of disrepair, causing access to be difficult. There was soiled nappies around the property, no room for children to be able to move around or play.”

On another visit toys were strewn around the home, and social services discovered a broken cooker, which needed to be removed, and the carpets were threadbare and dirty, the court heard.

The court also heard that the woman agreed she needed ‘a kick up the backside’ in regards to the ‘state’ of the property.

It was heard both defendants were given repeated opportunities to bring the property up to standard, including having cleaners organised by social services, and they were given £10,000 to clean up the house.

As part of the project a skip was purchased but it ended up being filled with empty alcohol bottles, which the woman argued were from neighbours, the prosecutor told the court.

On a visit in July 2019, social services attended the home and saw ‘very little improvement - conditions were still a significant concern.

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The garden was littered with rubbish, the children were dirty, their hair and nails needed cutting and there was little nutrition in the house.

There was a dirty fish tank, the kitchen work surfaces were cluttered, there was dirt on the doors and takeaway boxes were everywhere, the hearing heard.

The bathroom was described as ‘revolting’ with ‘urine and faeces’ left on surfaces.

However, the court heard that no physical or psychological harm had been done to any of the children.

The woman, who the court heard was the primary caregiver of the children was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months and to be on an electronic monitor for 60 days. The man was jailed for four months, suspended for 18 months and subject to pay £120 in costs.

While sentencing Judge Jonathan Carroll said: “In some ways this is a very sad case, you have lost the care of your children and that will have had an impact on you.

"I don’t judge you as wicked people as such, rather highly neglectful in these circumstances.”