Neglect case house 'filthy', court told

A SUFFOLK couple accused of neglecting their one-year-old daughter in the months before she drowned in a garden pond left a house they had been renting in a state of "complete filth", a court heard.

A SUFFOLK couple accused of neglecting their one-year-old daughter in the months before she drowned in a garden pond left a house they had been renting in a state of "complete filth", a court heard.

Rowley Fenwick told a jury at Ipswich Crown Court that he visited The Kennels, at Bartlow, Cambridgeshire, shortly after Richard and Karen Wilkinson had finished renting the premises from him and his wife and he had been shocked at what he found.

"The first thing I noticed was the smell followed by the complete filth of the place and then the damage to the interior," he said.

The first room he went into was the kitchen. "I've never seen a room in such a state in my life. It was disgusting."

He said the floor was sticky with fat, rubbish bags were lying everywhere and he found excrement under a bench seat in the kitchen.

The smell was so awful that he had to open the windows. "The smell was indescribable. I gagged," he said.

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He found a downstairs toilet was blocked and flooded and raw sewage had come up in the yard outside because of a broken pump.

He described the dining room as looking as if it had been used as a dog kennel with the carpet covered in dog's hair and filth.

French windows in the sitting room were smashed beyond repair and in the main bedroom he found the carpet was bloodstained and had human excrement on it.

In a cupboard outside the bedroom he found the remains of an animal and a bathroom next to the bedroom was awash with a foul smelling liquid.

He said the worst part of the house was the cellar where he found "heaps of excrement everywhere".

Mr Fenwick told the court that prior to the house being rented to the Wilkinsons in November 2000 it was clean, although he conceded that it had "a certain lived in feel and look to it".

Cross-examined by Lindsay Cox, defence counsel for Karen Wilkinson, Mr Fenwick accepted that the cellar had been under water when the Wilkinsons moved into the property.

"The rooms of the house certainly had their defects but the house was liveable in, bearing in mind my wife had only recently moved out of it," he said.

Richard Wilkinson, 41, and Karen Wilkinson, 27, of The Street, Brandon, have denied the manslaughter of their daughter Emily on February 15, 2003. Richard Wilkinson has denied four charges of child neglect which have been admitted by his wife.

It has been claimed that Emily drowned in a garden pond at her grandmother's house in Evergreen Lane, Great Bradley, shortly before her second birthday after wandering off while her parents were watching television.

The court has heard that Emily was pulled from the water by her father after another child raised the alarm.

He tried to resuscitate her and although he managed to revive her Emily died several hours later in hospital.

Karen Wilkinson has been described as a heavy cocaine user and the court has heard that she and her husband regularly drank alcohol and had violent rows.

Christopher Morgan, prosecuting, told the court that a year before Emily's death a neighbour who visited the family's rented house at Bartlow found Karen Wilkinson oblivious to what was going on around her on a settee, while Emily was upstairs in a cot dressed in a vest and a soiled nappy. She was found to be "red raw" from nappy rash and a plastic bag of bread had been left in the cot.

The court heard that during Emily's short life social workers and police had been regular visitors to the Wilkinson's and at one stage Emily had been placed on the Child Protection Register under the category of neglect.

Mr Morgan has alleged that the Wilkinsons had neglected Emily and he described her death as "an act of gross negligence" by them.

The trial continues.

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