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A man and a woman have each been given a two-year sentence in a severe neglect case in which five children were living in squalid conditions with very little food.
On Wednesday, Judge Marco Cloutier told a Saint John courtroom that “a true jail sentence is necessary” in this case and that a conditional sentence would not have been adequate.
The parents, who cannot be named to protect the children’s identities, pleaded guilty to five counts of failing to provide the children with the necessaries of life earlier this year.
In February, the provincial court in Saint John heard how the children missed weeks of school and had serious tooth decay. The family’s home had holes in the walls, a lack of beds and feces smeared around.
“The Crown described it as feces with small hand prints. There was animal feces and human feces. One of the children was completely undressed in one of the back rooms,” said Norm Bosse, the province’s Child and Youth Advocate, at the time.
Sheriffs delivering an eviction notice in May 2016 reported the conditions to authorities and the children were placed into foster care. The landlord contacted Global News at the same time, in order to show the condition of the home.
The conditions were so bad, the landlord had the home torn down.
On Wednesday, New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate, Norm Bosse, was in court for the sentencing.
He said “justice was served” and that his office has been looking into the case and a thorough review will continue.
“Were there gaps in the system? What happened here? How did this happen? If there are gaps, we report on those, we make recommendations to government,” he said.
WATCH: Calls for N.B. families and children minister to resign over child neglect case
It has since been revealed the province’s Department of Social Development had been involved with the family since 2012.
Joel Hansen, the lawyer representing the parents, says he doesn’t excuse what happened but suggests the Department of Social Development should have been watching more closely.
“They had a file on them coming in and I think they missed it,” said Hansen. “If you look at the facts, there were signs that they needed intervention right from the get go.”
The case has also sparked an internal review within the Department of Social Development.
With a file from The Canadian Press and Andrew Cromwell