Boy, 9, found in insect-infested flat with animal excrement on bedroom walls

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Details emerged when Gordon Bircham and Caitlin O’Brien appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court for sentencing. The mattress and walls in the boy’s bedroom was covered in animal urine and excrement. The flat was filled with rubbish and filth which left the boy’s bedroom and bathroom obstructed, the court heard.

Elsewhere in the house, police found rotting rubbish, stale food and dirty clothes.

Bircham, 32, and O’Brien, 28, were sentenced at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court this week.

They had both previously pleaded guilty to a charge of wilfully neglecting the child at a property in the Ayrshire town in July 2020.

According to The Daily Record, prosecutor Angie Bennett told the court: “The child stated to the officers he didn’t know if he had any clean clothes.

“He pointed out his bedroom to police. Police were unable to enter the bedroom due to the amount of household rubbish and empty food boxes and other items around the floor, and also on his bed.

“Other rooms in the house were in a not dissimilar condition.

“There was a cat litter tray which was full and had spilled over and had then flooded into the bathroom.

“There was human and animal faeces on the floor of the toilet and the walls.”

“It seemed to the police there was nowhere for the child to brush his teeth… there appeared to be no clean clothes and there did not appear to be any food for him.”

The court heard that the boy had been taken “to a place of safety”.

The charge Bircham and O’Brien pleaded guilty to, under Section 12(1) of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937, stated there “was only mouldy and out of date food within the kitchen” and that they “did thus expose said child to the risk of injury, infection and illness”.

Gillian Swanney, defending, said Bircham had experienced “a significant deterioration in his mental health and that of his ex-partner” which “spiralled out of control”.

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Sheriff Colin Bisset spared the couple, who have since split, a custodial sentence.

In summing up, he said: “Your behaviour towards this boy was disgusting and extremely regretful… I am prepared to deal with the matter by way of an alternative to custody.

“It’s a punishment that requires you to pay back to the community for your crime.”

Both were placed on a Community Payback Order which will see them supervised by social workers for 18 months.

They also have 12 months to do 80 hours of unpaid work, reduced from 120 as they admitted their guilt.

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