Image of the bunker where the boy was forced to sleep (Lancashire Constabulary)
The 11-year-old boy was forced to sleep in this coal bunker every night (Lancashire Constabulary) Lancashire Constabulary

A mother and a stepfather have been jailed for two years for forcing their 11-year-old son to sleep in a filthy coal bunker every night for a year.

The parents, who are in their 40s, cannot be named for legal reasons. They were sentenced to two years each at Preston crown court.

The 6ft (1.8m) by 4ft (1.2m) bunker, which social workers described as a "cell", had no heating or windows and its walls and floors were bare concrete with some wallpaper in places. The boy had to sleep on a dirty mattress with just a blanket to keep warm.

The room was an old outhouse with one exit bricked up and a new one added which led on to the lounge of the house in Blackpool, Lancashire.

The boy was locked inside the bunker each night and was not allowed out until morning. The boy told police he lived and slept in the room and to keep himself occupied, "pulled wallpaper off the walls because he had nothing else to do".

Both parents admitted a single charge of cruelty by wilful neglect between January 2010 and January 2011 at an earlier hearing.

Judge Norman Wright adjourning sentencing from last week because the case was so "emotionally charged".

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was put in the room for raiding the family's fridge, his parents told police after their arrest.

Sentencing the couple, Judge Norman Wright said: "This was a flagrant abuse of power and a gross breach of trust.

"The room has been described as a cell but it seems to me it was akin to a prison cell from a third world country, not the home of an 11- or 12-year-old living in this century in this country."

His school became concerned about him because he was always complaining he was hungry in class.

Doctors examined the boy and said he was underweight and below average height for his age. He was also treated for anaemia.

The couple from Blackpool have been sentenced to two years in jail each. (Lancashire Constabulary)
The couple from Blackpool have been sentenced to two years in jail each. (Lancashire Constabulary)