A mother who allowed men to sexually abuse her three daughters while she worked at her home as a prostitute in the 1970s and 1980s has been jailed for five years. The woman, now aged 71, was found guilty of eight counts of child cruelty after keeping her daughters in a home "almost Victorian in its bleakness" in Plymouth.

During her trial at Plymouth Crown Court, the jury heard how the woman would beat her children with bamboo sticks and belts, and lock them in a bedroom inside their house for days at a time. The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, would also leave them with nothing to eat and drink, resulting in the children drinking their own urine and eating cat food in order to survive.

The court also heard how one of the girls, now an adult, attempted suicide when she was just seven years old. The mother was also found to have "turned a blind eye" while her clients and boyfriends abused two of her children at her home and, on one occasion, raped one of the sisters.

The mother was found guilty of eight counts of child cruelty between 1976 and 1988, and jailed for five years. She denied the allegations against her.

At the court, Recorder Stephen Parish told the woman: "You enjoyed sexual relations with a number of men, some of whom paid for your services. Even if you did not encourage what was happening to your daughters, at the very least you turned a blind eye to it."

Details of the crimes only emerged in 2014, when one of the sisters came forward. Police said all but one of the male suspects in the case have since died. The surviving suspect, who appeared at the court alongside the mother, was jailed for three years after being found guilty of two counts of indecent assault against two of the girls in 1981 and 1982.

Ralph Burns, one of the suspects accused of accused of rape, died of lung cancer two weeks before the start of the trail, aged 59.