A COUPLE who neglected their three children, keeping them in horrific squalor in a filthy and stinking house in Accrington, have been spared immediate jail.

Burnley Crown Court heard how the two bedroomed home was full of bags of rubbish and the bathroom, the main source of water, was piled up with pots and pans.

A police officer who went to the property said she had dealt with a number of sudden deaths where decomposed bodies had been found after months, or even years.

The detective went on: “This house was in a league of its own. It’s a smell that I have never experienced before. It made me physically gag and made me extremely nauseous.”

The hearing was told amid the disgusting mess, which had been there seven months, were a large screen television and computers. The property has since been cleaned up by the pair with the help of vermin control, at the behest of the Environmental Health Department.

The man, 41, and woman, 35, who was said to have been depressed, each admitted three allegations of child cruelty, between last March and October.

The defendants, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were given 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, with two years' supervision by a judge who said of the house: “It’s just horrific, unbelievable. I don't know how anybody survived it.”

But, she added: “They were two very inadequate people at this time.”

Shirlie Duckworth, prosecuting, said last October, police went to the property where the defendants lived with their children.

When the door was opened, they immediately noticed a smell from inside. Bags of rubbish and clothing were all over the floor, the house was filthy and when an officer opened the kitchen door, he had to withdraw from the room because of a strong smell of ammonia.

Miss Duckworth said the couple were interviewed. The mother admitted neglecting both the children and the house. She claimed the property began to become a mess just after Christmas 2012 when they missed the bin collection. Her partner too admitted the state of the house was overwhelming. Neither had any previous convictions.

Judge Beverley Lunt said: “It's astonishing to me that none of you were made seriously ill by the circumstances here.”