The parents reportedly beat them with brooms, hoovers and wires and even gave their baby a morphine overdose just days after her first birthday.
Five of the children were finally rescued after their eldest daughter threw a heart-wrenching SOS note out of a window.
But it wasn’t until their one-year-old baby was given a morphine overdose over a year later that police reopened the case which led to their prosecution.
The plight of the children was so bad that Miss Collins, who met them at a church lunch, took them to the cinema ‘because she felt sorry for them’.
She gave evidence as a prosecution witness during the trial of the parents, both 40, who cannot be named to protect their six children.
But the parents claimed they were victims of a conspiracy – and even alleged Miss Collins was involved in a witch hunt against them and wanted to ‘steal’ their children.
One of the youngsters, a baby at the time, had been allowed to stay in the home by Haringey council, who were involved in the Baby P and Victoria Climbie cases, despite the fact the five other children had to be rescued.
Sentencing them to seven years behind bars each, Judge James Patrick described it as ‘shocking mistreatment’ that they had tried to cover up with a ‘web of deception’.
Judge Patrick said: ‘No-one who sat through this trial could help but be moved by the fact that these intelligent, charming, fun, lovable children continue to love you despite what you put them through.’
The married couple denied the allegations claiming they were victims of a racist witch-hunt but were found guilty of cruelty to a person under 16.
They argued the children had been ‘brainwashed’ into making the allegations by the police, the London Borough of Haringey and Miss Collins who they said ‘wanted to steal’ them, Wood Green Crown Court heard.
But Judge Patrick noted: ‘You alleged a conspiracy involving a well-known actress, who had done nothing but show your family generosity and kindness, a member of a housing charity, social workers and foster carers.
‘Those who had taken the trouble to support you were repeatedly accused of dishonesty, lying, and conspiracy to rob you of your children when the reality was that both of you were lying – in fact they ware simply seeking to give your children stability.’
The abuse came to the attention of police in April 2010 when their nine-year-old wrote an SOS note and threw it out of her bedroom window.
The heart-breaking plea read: ‘My mum is the worst mum ever because she can’t cope with five of us, her broken hand and being pregnant. She always leaves me out so I always starve and I am forced to work.
‘If I don’t get enough house work done, I am beaten without mercy with the wooden end of a broom. I have scars all over me to prove it. I can’t stay here. I would like a new mum.’
It was found by a neighbour who called the police, and when officers attended the address they found the children living in messy conditions with ‘dirty’ and ‘dishevelled’ clothing.
Revealing scars the eldest said her mother had hit her with a cable, a broom, and a hoover and her father had dangled her by her feet down the stairwell of the house, tied her hands behind her back and her legs together ‘to get the devilish spirits out’, prosecutor Emma Smith said.
Her sister, who was seven at the time, had a stick shaped bruise of her thigh and after a few months in care, she drew a series of pictures showing her dad beating her and her being left home alone and including a speech bubble saying ‘I’m hungry.’
The children were left home alone for hours, sometimes days on end, with the elder kids forced to look after the others.
They had even been forced to lie to a charity and social services that they were living alone with their mother in one room and had no idea who their dad was so they could scam benefits.
Even during the trial the eldest feared she had torn her family apart with her ‘devastating cry from the heart in the form of a letter which she threw from the window’, the judge noted.
There was an investigation but no further action, and the five children remained in care until the parents once again came to police attention on 28 June last year, when they gave their baby an overdose.
‘But for the events of June 28 you would have gotten away with your crimes because of a merciful decision not to prosecute you’, Judge Patrick noted.
The couple’s sixth child, a baby girl, was also initially taken into care but then returned to her parents. They took her to St Thomas’s Hospital just days after her first birthday last year.
Without treatment she could have died but doctors managed to save the youngster, who it is believed was given morphine orally that morning.
Jurors rejected the parents conspiracy theories.
When they are released they face deportation back to Nigeria – despite pleas from their legal team that they have been ‘punished enough’ by having their children taken into care.
As they left the court they wailed: ‘We are innocent, this is a miscarriage of justice.’
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