North News The children's squalid bedroom
Two children lived in hazardous squalor because their mum and dad "couldn't be bothered" to clean and tidy their home.
The youngsters were at "risk of harm" by the filthy conditions of their home in Hartlepool, County Durham, a court was told.
Shocked officials found:
• broken furniture, clothes and clutter covering floors.
• the kitchen was piled high with dirty dishes and surfaces were covered in grime.
• the children were forced to sleep together in a single bed because another bed lay in a broken heap.
• the mirror on the stairs, which was broken during a row between the parents, had also not been cleared.
North News The grimy kitchen
The squalor was only discovered after the children's school contacted police.
Both parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, admitted child neglect at Hartlepool Magistrates Court.
Guy Prest, prosecuting, said: "On entering police found the house where the children lived was in such a state of disarray it patently exposed the young children to risk of harm.
"It was acknowledged by the mother she hadn't removed that debris because she couldn't be bothered with anything.
"She said she hadn't been upstairs for some time and really didn't know what was going on upstairs.
"However, she obviously knew it was in a state of disarray and said both she and the children had tripped up over various items strewn around."
The mum told police she was suffering from depression and had a gambling problem. She barely cooked so the family existed on takeaways, Pot Noodles and bread.
The dad told police he could have done more.
But he said he did not think the mess was a danger saying: "Kids know what's dangerous."
North News Rubbish strewn dining room
Neil Taylor, mitigating, for the parents conceded the state of the house was "appalling" but said they had accepted full responsibility.
"They are both remorseful for what they did but they both understand the issues now and their only concern is to prove themselves to social services," he said.
Both parents were given one-year community orders with supervision and ordered to pay £170 costs.
Chairman of the bench Tony Raine said: "Our primary concern in this matter are the two children.
"The bench is startled at the condition of the property. We have not seen such conditions in our experience before."
Let's hope the parents prove themselves capable of caring for their children now.