Couple jailed for cruelty after child developed trench foot from sleeping in outhouse

A couple have been jailed for eight years after a child in their care developed trench foot from being forced to sleep in an outhouse.

The child, who is now 16 years old, had been denied food and was forced to sleep outside of the family home.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard how the girl was kept away from the rest of the family in England's West Midlands and was refused clean clothes and bedding.

She spent her nights in the freezing outhouse without warmth or proper shelter.

The outhouse where the girl was forced to sleep. Source: West Midlands Police

The girl had resorted to begging strangers for money and eating scraps from bins.

By the time she was 12 years old she was voluntarily taken into care.

Her foster carers found she was suffering from trench foot – a condition known for affecting soldiers fighting in trenches during World War I.

It causes numbness, swelling, sores and decay and comes from spending time in damp surroundings.

The child was also suffering from an untreated skin infection and a severe case of head lice.

Her weight had fallen far below that of a normal 12-year-old and her growth was stunted from a lack of nutrients.

Her 44-year-old step-father and 40-year-old mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted cruelty to a child under 16 when they appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court.

They were sentenced to jail for four years and three months each.

The couple were sentenced in the Wolverhampton Crown Court. Source: Getty

Detective Sergeant Catherine Loosemore, from the West Midlands Police Public Protection Unit, said: "As soon as we were alerted to the child’s ill-treatment, we moved swiftly to arrest those responsible for her well-being.

"They initially denied the abuse, saying that it was the girl’s choice to sleep outside and that she was fed, but made herself sick, accounting for her small frame. At the time she was wearing the clothes of a seven-year-old and these were dirty and secondhand.

"As soon as she was taken into foster care, she quickly began to gain weight and slowly felt safe enough to talk about how she had been bullied at school as a result of her home life and poor hygiene.

"She had been frightened of her step-father who had threatened her on many occasions and she couldn’t understand why she alone suffered this abuse.

"Although she has recovered physically, the mental scars remain, but I hope with time and the happy home she now finds herself in, she will be able to feel the love and stability that she deserves."

If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don't suffer in silence, call 1800 RESPECT any time of day or night.

Newsbreak - October 25

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