Neglected kids back home in days

MORE BEER THAN FOOD:  Police  found a cannabis bong and empty beer bottles on the kitchen bench.
MORE BEER THAN FOOD: Police found a cannabis bong and empty beer bottles on the kitchen bench.

Four severely neglected children removed from the care of their boozing parents were back in their squalid home within days.

The children, all aged under 5, were found dirty and malnourished, with head lice infestations and open scabies wounds, in their Lower Hutt home in January.

Their parents were drunk, and there was more alcohol than food in the house. Police who were called to the scene called it "one of the worst cases of neglect seen in the Hutt Valley".

They removed the children, and Child, Youth and Family placed them with a whanau member. But that person returned them to their parents' care within days.

CYF central regional director John Langley said yesterday: "[We] did not return the children to the home at any point."

Police went back six days after their first visit and removed the children again. They were taken to hospital, where two needed antibiotics for scabies, one needed dental work for cavities, and one had to be put on a drip to counter the extent of an infection.

Photos showed blood patches on one of the children's T-shirts from open sores on her back, and head lice were seen "jumping on the kids", police said.

Officers who visited the house were advised to treat themselves for scabies and head lice.

The children's parents, a 25-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, pleaded guilty in Wellington District Court yesterday to four charges each of failing to provide medical care and adequate food and nutrition for their four children, aged 4, 3, 2, and 7 months.

The mother has three previous convictions for leaving children under 14 years without reasonable supervision.

Police first visited the house on the evening of January 4 after worried neighbours saw children running on the road.

The parents and their friends were drunk at the house, and the mother was charged when she tried to drive away while more than twice the legal alcohol limit. She has already pleaded guilty to that charge.

Police also had to stop the man leaving to get more alcohol.

None of the bedrooms had any furniture, there was no bedding and just one mattress on the floor of the living room. There was little food and no baby formula, while a cannabis bong and beer bottles occupied the kitchen bench.

Police visited again on January 7 and on January 10, when they found the children back at the house, in similar conditions.

They remain in CYF care, "and are in good health", Mr Langley said. Long-term care arrangements were still being finalised.

It is understood the couple had moved into the three-bedroom rental home from Whanganui about a week before Christmas.

Hutt Valley family violence co- ordinator Detective Sergeant Emma Bunny described the scabies infections as "the worst thing I've ever seen on a child".

Area commander Inspector Mike Hill said the case had an impact on his officers.

"This is one of the worst cases of neglect we've seen in the Hutt Valley and it affected all the police staff who had anything to do with this case."

The Dominion Post