The father at the centre of a Northampton child neglect case has taken the stand to defend what police found at his house the night they came to safeguard his children.
A trial is underway over the alleged mistreatment of children at a Northampton household.
The father in the case is accused of regularly beating the children, stopping them from using the toilet and not feeding them properly.
The worst of the allegations surround keeping one of the boys locked and naked in a filthy, dark bedroom with no furniture or a lightbulb.
When police arrived at the house, they found the walls of this bedroom covered in excrement, with a lock and an exterior alarm on the door.
But at Northampton Crown Court yesterday (April 4), the father in the case took the stand to try to explain the events that led up to what the police saw in his household that night.
He told the jury the child at the centre of the case had had severe behaviour problems his whole life, including running away and stealing 'anything he could get his hands on'.
But from an early age, the boy had a severe problem with soiling himself, the court heard - and would hide his faeces in his room.
The father said: "Me and my wife would find it stuffed in his mattress, under his bed, behind the radiator. He soiled himself. He even 'played' with it.
"If you ever asked why he did any of these things, like running away or playing with his faeces, he would say 'because I wanted to'.
"It went on like this for years. To be honest with you, we couldn't take it anymore."
The father said his behaviour led to them putting an alarm on the boy's door to monitor his movements in the house.
The father told the jury they tried to involve mental health teams 'from the start' - but they were rejected as they ruled the problem was not a psychological one.
He added other services 'did not do enough' to help them over the years.
Then - weeks before the police visited - he told the jury he came upstairs and noticed 'a funny smell' from the boy's room, after reportedly 'not really going into' it for a week or more.
He told the jury: "I opened the door. I was horrified. I had never seen anything like it."
He claimed this was when he found the boy had covered the walls and floors with excrement - leaving it in the state the police found it in.
The father told the jury: "I only thought, 'how could this have gone unnoticed?'
"I dragged all the furniture out to the kerb for the binmen to take."
The father's barrister, Mr Andrew Fitch-Holland asked: "And did you clean the room?"
"No," said the father. "To be honest, I didn't know how to deal with it. We didn't have the money to buy new furniture. So we closed ourselves off from that room.
"I just buried my head in the sand.
"I regret not cleaning it to this day."
They reportedly started giving the boy blow-up beds after this.
Social services also noted there were no toys and scant furniture in any of the children's rooms - but saw a spare room had a bunk bed with many toys piled in there.
"I was decorating," said the father.
"My house is like Toys 'R' Us. There are so many toys there."
He denied, in turn, all the allegations against him - including beating the children, not feeding them, not letting them use the bathroom, making them hit each other, making the children watch horror films, wearing Halloween costumes to scare them, making them do physical exercise as punishment, or smacking a child during nappy changes.
He said: "I would never hit my children. That's sick.
"I treated all my kids the same."
The jury also watched as the man broke down in tears when Mr Fitch-Holland had him look at pictures of the children taken in the two years leading up to when social services took them away.
The police visited the house when one of the children told a member of staff at school that 'my brother is treated badly at home'.
The trial continues.