Two Alfredton parents who imprisoned their young children, sometimes for hours on end without food or water, have avoided jail.
The parents, whom The Courier has chosen not to name, were given community corrections orders in the Melbourne County Court last week.
The parents last month pleaded guilty to almost 20 charges of false imprisonment between them, with the stepfather also pleading guilty to charges of recklessly causing injury for his violent assaults on the children.
The May plea hearing heard the offending took place between September 2010 and July 2012, with the father subjecting the children to abuse including kicking, hitting and in one instance holding their hands over the top of ignited stove burners.
The children were the mother’s four biological children, with the youngest just four-years-old.
The plea hearing heard the stepfather reversed the locking mechanism on bedroom doors, allowing himself to lock the doors from the outside.
On many occasions the children would be locked in their rooms for hours on end, often without adequate bedding, ventilation, food or water.
In sentencing, Judge Liz Gaynor said the children were often forced to use a bucket as a toilet, which they had to clean out each morning.
The judge said the mother was aware of the treatment at the hands of her partner, yet never intervened.
“Eventually, the children told their maternal grandmother what was occurring,” she said.
Judge Gaynor said they made some admissions including that the offending was a form of “discipline” for the children.
The judge said the “regime” which the children were exposed to was excessive and inappropriate, but said the parents probably considered it appropriate due to their own upbringings.
Judge Gaynor said the parents had no prior convictions and that the offending was not “malicious or sadistic”.
“The pair of you have very much suffered as a result, ultimately, of this regime ... you have lost your children,” she said.
The stepfather was sentenced to a three-year community corrections order including 300 hours of unpaid community work.
The mother was sentenced to a two-year community corrections order including 100 hours of community work.