The father of Wollongong's 'house of horrors' children has been convicted of child neglect charges despite claiming the children were not his legal responsibility.
The Mercury revealed the shocking case of neglect after the children were found living in extreme squalor inside an Illawarra home in late 2017.
The police case against the children's mother attracted national attention last year after it was revealed she could only be fined for her actions under the sentencing options at the time.
The public and political outcry led to the introduction of jail sentences for child neglect offences from February this year.
Meanwhile, the children's father was also charged with neglect but pleaded not guilty, claiming he did not live at the squalid premises at the time and only visited it "two to three times a week, for two to three hours at a time" to see his children.
In a hearing in Wollongong Local Court this week, the man said he would play with the children when he was at the home but that it was his partner - the mother of the children - who was legally responsible for their care and wellbeing.
He denied telling Family and Community Service workers that he was living at the house and that men's clothing and tools found at the property belonged to him.
He told the court that the property was often dirty when he was there and that he saw cockroaches in the kitchen, clothes on the floor and the house was generally a mess.
However, a series of sickening photographs taken by police when they removed the children from the home in October 2017 shows the house was covered in human faeces, there was a drawer full of rotting food, unwashed clothing piled high and an infestation of flies and cockroaches in multiple rooms.
Officers described the living conditions as "near uninhabitable".
The man denied ever seeing urine and faeces spread around the house, despite telling the court he was at the property just three days before the pictures were taken.
Magistrate Susan McGowan rejected the father's evidence "in its entirety" and found he had abandoned his legal responsibility to care for the children.
"He's responsible along with their mother for the children's wellbeing," she said.
Noting the mother had been fined $25,000 by the court, Magistrate McGowan fined the man $20,000, noting he was not the primary caregiver.
She was prohibited from imposing a bond, work order or a jail sentence - as allowed under the new sentencing regime - as the man was charged under the old legislation and the updated laws were not made retrospective.