The parents of three children who suffered horrific physical and psychological abuse at their hands have been jailed for a total of six and a half years.
A judge said the victims had no respite – and had not even been able to find comfort in the company of each other because of a “divide and rule” culture in the household. As a result, they were lonely, unloved, neglected and beaten, Judge Pamela Badley said.
Preston Crown Court had heard a series of claims regarding a daughter and two sons, including strangling, being stabbed with a dirty needle, being hit with a belt, hair pulling, having a knife held to the throat and being made to stand outside as a punishment. The defendants, from central Lancashire who cannot be named in order to protect the identities of the children, were sentenced yesterday.
The mother had previously been convicted of for four counts of child cruelty and the father was convicted of five charges. She was given three years prison, while he got a three-and-a-half-year term.
Judge Badley told them: “Both of you behaved with cynical and deliberate cruelty towards them, playing out your own war of attrition. Both of you, while denying the charges, sought to blame each other and again and again, you sought to turn the evidence to your own advantage.”
The pair had each admitted one or two cruelty charges.
The judge added: “I find that you were both systematically cruel to the children in both a physical and a psychological sense, with very frequent ill treatment.
“It was the day-to-day cruelty and the lack of concern for the children which was the most shocking in this case.
“This was a course of conduct over a long period of time, each of you blaming the other.
“There was a toxic atmosphere in which the children had no respite from either of you and didn’t even have comfort in each other’s presence.”
James Burke, representing the mother, said she had a background involving abuse. She had suffered “extraordinarily” as a young woman.
This had led to her suffering a complete breakdown.
He said: “She has very significant problems, in terms of her own troubled background.
“A psychological report gives much greater insight into circumstances where her efforts at reasonable chastisement, in respect of fairly routine problems, escalated into abuse.
“At the time when these incidents were going on, the defendant was someone with a borderline personality disorder.
“Underlying traumas have really led to this offending behaviour.”
Jo Shepherd, for the father, said: “He has reflected during his time in custody.
“He accepts the deficiencies in his parenting style.
“He accepts he failed his children.
“He is hoping to rebuild relationships with his children, should they wish to, later on in life.”