A COUPLE separated a little boy from his six brothers and sisters because they felt that he 'did not fit into the family', a High Court judge has heard.

They decided to live as a ‘divided family’ with the mother and six children occupying one room and the father and little boy occupying another, Mrs Justice Russell was told.

The little boy, now five, was ‘largely confined’ to a room with a gate placed across the doorway.

He shared his father’s meals.

Mrs Justice Russell said the little boy must have suffered 'significant emotional harm'.

She said the depth of that harm might not become apparent until he was older.

Detail of the little boy's treatment has emerged in a written ruling by the judge following a hearing in a family court in Manchester.

The judge ruled that all seven children – aged between 13 and three – should be taken into care.

She said all had probably suffered ‘significant and long-lasting harm’ as a result of their parents’ care.

Mrs Justice Russell did not identify the couple but said they had lived in Burnley.

And the judge said the local authority with responsibility for the children was Lancashire County Council.

She said: “The depth of the emotional harm he has suffered may not become apparent until he is older, but it would be facile to suggest anything other than that he must have suffered significant emotional harm based on the evidence of his parents alone.

“He was seen as the problem and he and the other children must have known it; indeed the older children have said so,” she said.

“The emotional harm that this has caused his siblings is significant.

“The oldest three have expressed guilt and remorse at the way he was treated; they should not have been put in that position.”

The judge said the couple’s 13-year-old daughter had suggested a set of ‘rules’ for her parents.

“They include that her father is not to shout at them or lose his temper,” said the judge.

“They are not allowed to say that she is a liar or that she writes too many letters; they are not allowed to say anything against the people who help (the children) like the social worker ... and no making fun of (the children's) doctor’s or dentist’s appointments."

The girl had complained that her father would ‘drink lots of beer cans and then go through and throw out their belongings’ and had described ‘rats in the yard’, said the judge.