An elderly couple who locked five children up in a basement "dungeon" and tortured them over three decades of sickening "abuse, neglect and cruelty" have been jailed for 21 years.
Valerie Stannard, 73, held a boy's hands over a stove flame and stuffed lit paper down a boy's pyjamas while her husband Roy, 74, punched a youngster "as if he was punching a man".
The children were thrashed with a bamboo cane or belt in the basement at the Stannards' home in Stoke Newington, north London, the Daily Mail reports.
The youngest victim was just a toddler when he was tied to his highchair and locked in a cupboard with the couple's dogs because he cried, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
The Stannards were convicted of 18 out of 22 charges in March relating to five youngsters involving sexual abuse and child cruelty between 1969 and 1985.
Valerie was jailed for nine years and Roy for 12.
Valerie Stannard would draw a line on their milk bottles to mark how much had been drunk and she would beat them if she caught them taking more, the court heard.
Roy Stannard also sent them out to steal objects for him to sell on his market stall.
He stripped one of the girls naked for his sexual pleasure on six occasions.
One victim said the couple would force soap down their throats, and said they were forced to watch as other children were tortured.
The elderly couple sat emotionless and stared at the public gallery throughout mitigation and sentencing, before waving to family members as they were led away.
The month-long trial heard heartbreaking evidence from the victims as they described the catalogue of abuse they suffered at the hands of the Stannards.
One victim said: "We were not living, it was just an existence."
Sally-Ann Hales, QC, prosecuting, said: "Their lives routinely involved physical abuse, neglect and cruelty, and in the case of Mr Stannard involves sexual abuse of two of the children.
"They describe a miserable childhood characterised by cruelty of both defendants and Ms Stannard in particular.
"Each experienced or witnessed physical abuse, cruelty or neglect on an almost daily basis.
"They lived in fear of speaking out or standing up for themselves or each other."
Describing another incident of cruelty, she said: "He had a coat hanger and put it in his jumper and hung him up on the door making him choke."
One of the girls was made to do household chores and treated "like a skivvy".
Social services visited their property, but the Stannards were adept at covering their abuse, renting clothes from a shop for the visit and returning them later.
"Valerie had a stick and cane and a belt which belonged to Roy was used for the same purpose," said Miss Hales.
"They were never fed properly. When social services visited the house they were required to behave as if everything was fine."
The prosecutor added: "She saw Valerie light paper in his pyjamas. When punishments were given Valerie would make the other children watch.
"Even if they hadn't done anything wrong they would find a reason to hit you."
One of the boys remembered being caught taking a slice of bread at night.
'Valerie got the children out of bed into the kitchen,' said the prosecutor.
"She grabbed the boy's hand and held it over the cooking flame, saying 'this is what thieves get'. He remembers screaming with pain."
Police finally launched an investigation into the couple in July 2014.
Roy Stannard said in a statement: "They are all going to stick together and they have got this planned. They are trying to get back at us."
He denied the allegations of abuse during the trial and said it was a "very different time back then".
Robert Dacre, defending Valerie Stannard, said: "Your honour may take the view that the real test is what sentence is justified in the circumstances.
"I do not seek to minimise the psychological impact that the victims had in later life.
"But my point is a simple one: Mrs Stannard is ageing and of ill health.
"She continues to suffer from asthma and has ongoing heart issues, including hypertension. It is likely that prison will be very very difficult for her."
Michael Hayton, defending Roy Stannard, said: "It is right to say that he was put in a house in the 70s that was extremely challenging. Clearly there was a large number of issues going on in the background.
"Mr Stannard was out of the house for large parts of the week and weekends. In most cases he was used as an enforcer."
Roy Stannard was convicted of four counts of child cruelty and six of indecent assault. Valerie Stannard was convicted of eight counts of child cruelty.
The couple, who now live in Barge Lane, Bow, denied all the charges.
Judge Alastair Hammerton said: "The victim statements reveal the devastating impacts of your crimes.
"Valerie Stannard your ill treatment was often and severe, leaving marks on the children.
"You punished a boy by putting a newspaper down his pyjamas then lit it.
"You punished another boy by putting soap down his throat. He thought he was choking and was going to die.
"The evidence from a number of witnesses was that on at least one occasion you put a boy in an unlit cupboard while he was still in his high chair.
"Roy Stannard your ill treatment was also rather frequent and severe, including hitting a boy with a closed fist "like a man".