A COUPLE whose children had to have teeth pulled out after they fed them pizza and ice cream for breakfast have walked free from court.

The pair, who cannot be named for legal reasons, avoided jail despite admitting wilfully neglecting three children causing them unnecessary suffering or injury, over an eight year period at their home in Kilwinning.

The pair appeared at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court this week for sentencing and were admonished by Sheriff Shirley Foran who accepted claims by their lawyers that the pair simply didn’t understand the seriousness of their actions.

The couple, both 27, had been in a relationship for 10 years and had five children together aged, nine, seven, five, three and two, but had failed to provide the three eldest children with adequate dental care.

The court heard that a health visitor had attended the family home and witnessed the children eating pizza and ice cream for breakfast.

During a previous hearing Fiscal depute Vicky McMillan said the couple’s eldest child had visited the dentist in May 2012 where decay was seen on her baby teeth and a plan was made to restore the teeth rather than extract them.

However, the couple failed to attend appointments for the child and in July 2012 she had to have four baby teeth removed under general anaesthetic.

The court was then told another child was seen by the dentist in October 2014 and was found to have significant decay on three baby teeth which had to be extracted by general anaesthetic.

Later the same month the same child had to have a further four teeth removed due to decay.

On this occasion the dentist said this decay could have been attributed to nursing bottles and poor diet.

The third child was registered with the dentist in April 2014 and it was noted that her oral hygiene was ok and there was no decay.

But Ms McMillan told the court the child return to the dentist 10 months later suffering from toothache.

She said: “On February 4, 2015 she had an emergency appointment due to decay of a baby molar and the dentist noted that the gum was inflamed and she was suffering pain.

“She was given antibiotics and an appointment made for February 18, but the appointment was later cancelled by her parents.

“The dentist said poor oral hygiene and diet had contributed to the decay in the children’s mouths.”

As a result of concerns from the dentist and social services the children were removed from the couple’s care and put into foster care on February 17, 2016.

Their parents have not seen them since May 2016. Douglas McPhee was representing the children’s mother and said she was plagued with health problems and found it very difficult to deal with five children.

Mr McPhee said given the family’s difficulties, social services should have intervened sooner.

“The situation is that she doesn’t fully appreciate the seriousness of this matter. She doesn’t understand the language.

“There’s been significant social work involvement for a number of years leading up to 2016.

“Given the background and her difficulties I would suggest alarm bells should have been ringing some time the children were eventually taken away.”

Appearing on behalf of the children’s father, who appeared in court flanked by an appropriate adult, Simon Brown said his client suffered from “significant cognitive difficulties” and was not able to understand how serious the neglect of his children had been.

He said: “My client suffers from significant cognitive difficulties and appears today with an appropriate adult, so I think it’s an issue of understanding rather than anything else.”

Sheriff Foran accepted the parents’ difficulties meant they were unable to fully understand the serious nature of the neglect and admonished them.

She said: “They have already lost the care of their children and should they be in a position to care for any child in the future then we would have to revisit this, however there is no public interest or protection issues here to impose any kind of sentence so I admonish and dismiss you.

“You are free to go.”