By PAUL THORNTON & REBECCA JAMIESON
A MOTHER neglected her four children and kept them living in squalor while their father grew immaculate cannabis plants in a cupboard in their home.
The youngsters – aged between 10 and seven years old – were found sleeping on the floor covered by dirty bed sheets in a filthy and darkened house in Edinburgh.
Meanwhile a dozen cannabis plants – which were hand reared from seed – enjoyed daily watering and plush conditions to grow hash for their father.
The illegal plants had fans and heat lights to keep them at their optimum temperature for growing – despite the children being described by police as “street urchins”.
Police only became aware of the shameful neglect after a visit to give the parents a formal warning about one of their children running wild.
But when they saw the disgusting conditions in which the youngsters lived, they called in social workers who immediately took the neglected kids into care.
And a search of the home later revealed the well-maintained drugs stash which their father cultivated for his own hash habit.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court the 48-year-old mum admitted wilful neglect of her two boys and two girls.
And their 35-year-old dad pleaded guilty to cannabis cultivation at their then home in the Niddrie area of Edinburgh.
The court had heard how two police officers went round to the family address on April 21 last year following complaints about the anti-social behaviour of their nine-year-old son.
Fiscal depute Gillian More said the police were horrified when they were confronted by a stinking and grubby home.
Ms More said: “Both officers observed that the house was extremely dirty and smelled strongly of filth.
“It appeared that the living room had been in this condition for some time due to the dirt and filth that had formed.
“The windows of the living room were covered with dirty blankets acting as make-shift curtains. As such the room was dark and dingy even in daylight.”
The children’s mum admitted that she had not provided her kids with sleeping accommodation and Ms More said it seemed they had been sleeping on the couch and the dirty floor of the filthy living room.
Ms More said: “Both police officers observed that the children were very dirty. The girls in particular had matted hair and very dirty faces and had the appearance of street urchins.”
But their mother seemed “totally indifferent and unconcerned” when the officers confronted her about her son’s behaviour.
And the police immediately called in social workers to assess all the siblings’ welfare.
During the joint investigation, the mum admitted to police that there was a stash of cannabis plants in her and her husband’s bedroom.
The officers found and seized 12 herbal cannabis plants from a cupboard in the master-bedroom.
Ms More said: “The officers observed numerous well-established plants.
“The plants were accompanied by fans and lights and the officers also observed numerous bags of compost beside the cupboard.”
A social worker who had been called stayed at the address with police until the eldest child – a 10-year-old boy – returned home before taking all four into care.
The mother was taken to St Leonard’s Police Station and interviewed before being arrested. The father was also detained after he turned up at the station asking about his wife.
They admitted they had been staying at the home for about two years but said the father had moved out the month before the incident came to light.
He said that he had been growing the cannabis plant for “three or four months” from seed and insisted that it was for his personal use.
The mother and father – who cannot be named for fear of identifying their children – later admitted neglect and drug cultivation respectively.
Sheriff Michael O’Grady deferred sentence on the pair until next month and they were granted bail until then.
The children remain in care.