'This is not my home. This is a prison.'
THIS is not my home.
This is a prison.
A girl, aged just five years, used her own feces to write that poignant message in a barren room where her parents regularly locked her without food, water or access to a toilet.
The couple would remove door handles from a room in their Caboolture house and leave the girl without toys or her clothes as a way to discipline her for behaviour the court heard was nothing "more than the norm for a five-year-old".
The room where she was left for up to a day sometimes had security screens on the windows and contained just a bed with a bottom sheet.
The girl's mother and stepfather will serve just 11 months behind bars between them for 15 months of cruelty.
The man and woman, who cannot be named to protect the child's identity, faced Brisbane District Court on Friday on torture and cruelty charges from 2013 and 2014.
Judge Craig Chowdhury described the offences as "shocking" and said the couple seemed to be "completely inadequate as parents".
"The mind boggles when it hears that the child had to endure these events over an extended period of time, some 15 months," he said.
Judge Chowdhury said the little girl now suffered multiple health issues including chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.
The court heard the girl's stepfather - who has a brain injury - was also involved in dumping three other children in forests, including near the Glasshouse Mountains at night, because they were misbehaving.
Crown prosecutor Michael Connolly said the man was not the main instigator in that offence and another man would soon face court for his alleged involvement.
He said the three children were screaming as the adults kept driving off, forcing them to run after the car.
In one incident, the children - a 12-year-old boy with autism and two girls aged four and five - had to run for five or six kilometres.
On Friday, the man, aged about 28 at the time of the offences, was sentenced to four years jail but will be released on parole after serving just eight months.
The woman, aged about 24 at the time, must serve only three months of a three-year jail term before she will be released on parole.
The woman's defence barrister Kim Bryson said the couple often sought advice from a man, aged roughly 30 years older than them and living in the same street, for disciplinary action.
She said the woman was "easily led" by the man's advice and that the couple saw him as an authority figure. - ARM NEWSDESK