July 2022

Cruel parents left five kids in squalor in vile, smelly home while they smoked weed

A couple have been sent to prison after five children under 12 were found to be living in scenes of “squalor” in the pair’s filthy home.

Lee Carnell, 32, and his ex-girlfriend Sarah Lamb, 33, both admitted to a string of child cruelty offences which involved five children, four girls and a boy.

The children have since been taken into foster care after concerns were raised to police in 2019 about the conditions the children were living in

Upon investigating the property in Hull, a state of hellish squalor was discovered, with only four beds to seven people, human excrement smeared on walls next to toothbrushes, dirty nappies everywhere, a foul smell, mouldy food, and a plague of flies.

The physical and mental health of the children was severely affected by the couple’s sustained neglect, with the children’s teeth in a “dismal state”, as well as being 18 months behind where they should be at school.

The eldest girl had nearly been punched in the face by Carnell, a mixed martial arts fighter, but the blow had missed and hit a wall, causing a hole in it.

The boy used to urinate in his room because he was scared of Carnell.

She was described as a “scared girl” who felt anger at what had happened to her. During one incident, Lamb put her hand over her mouth and she had pulled her hair.

Another girl had a limited vocabulary, struggled to put words together and would “gorge” herself eating, while a third could not read or write.

The boy got flustered easily and had some behavioural issues as a result of the neglect he had suffered.

Richard Thompson, prosecuting, said that the case “involved multiple incidents of serious neglect.”

He said: “It is neglect over years, not weeks. It’s neglect of their emotional needs. For these children, moving on is going to take many years in terms of the physical harm they have suffered and, more importantly, the emotional harm they have suffered.

“These are still children with very serious problems that they are going to live with for many years.”

Carnell later told police that the couple did not have a vacuum cleaner and the reason the house smelled was because of a water leak problem.

“He admitted the property was not a good or safe place for children,” said Mr Thompson. “He said that the house being in such a state was not his fault.”

Carnell admitted swearing in front of the children but denied punching the eldest girl, although he admitted causing a hole in the wall. Lamb denied responsibility for the children’s health issues but admitted smoking cannabis.

Carnell had convictions for dishonesty, possessing drugs, assaulting police, criminal damage, depositing waste and theft, with many of the offences from when he was a youth. Lamb had no previous convictions but had four cautions for assault.

Lamb now has a baby son after becoming pregnant again when she believed that she was unable to have any more children. She did not have any contact with the other five children.

Judge Peter Kelson QC said: “There was cannabis located in areas within reach of the children, little food in the cupboards, mould visible on food, no carpeting, with glass on the floor, only four beds available for seven people, with no bedding and dirty nappies everywhere. It’s a description of squalor.”

The neglect was said to have happened over a period of two-and-a-half years to four years, although the defence claimed it was for only two-and-a-half years. Carnell had not allowed the boy to use the toilet at night, meaning the youngster was afraid to do so and urinated on the floor if he needed to at night.

Lamb had put a hand over the mouth of the eldest girl during one incident and had pulled her hair. The three eldest children had an extremely poor attendance record at school and there were numerous missed medical appointments.

“All five children were 18 months behind in their development. The prosecution contend that this is serious neglect. It’s plainly a case of the utmost gravity. In so many ways, these children have been damaged and damaged badly.

“It’s an assault without a beating in many ways. It’s assault by neglect. Appropriate punishment can only be achieved by immediate custody. This is a case requiring a deterrent sentence. It’s a case where parenting has fallen so far below the acceptable standard.”

Carnell, who pleaded guilty at a very late stage, was jailed for two years.

Lamb, of Wexford Avenue, Hull, was jailed for 18 months.

She had been laughing and joking before going into court.

“You will have served your prison sentence long before your children have recovered from your harm,” said Judge Kelson.