A New Brunswick court heard graphic details Wednesday about the plight of five young children living in deplorable living conditions and poorly fed and neglected by their parents, who have pleaded guilty to child neglect.

A publication ban prevents CTV News from identifying the children, who range in age from two to 10.

The Crown prosecutor told the courtroom that in 2016, the children were living with their parents in a Saint John home almost beyond description.

"The excrement and dirt upon the TV and walls is everywhere. What is most distressing is that the fecal matter was spread by little hands, suggesting children," the Crown said Wednesday.

The court also heard the children were provided with “lack of food, lack of nourishment … and the necessities of life."

None of the children had a valid Medicare card and all were in desperate need of dental care.

According to information released in court, it was “a stroke of luck” that the children were found at all. Four sheriffs’ deputies went to the couple's home in May 2016 to evict them. It was the sheriffs who noticed the deplorable living conditions the children were in, and the sheriffs notified police and social workers.

"What the Crown described in court this morning, it's very troubling. It's almost inhuman,” says New Brunswick’s child and youth advocate, Norm Bosse, who was in court Wednesday.

The court was told social workers had opened a child protection file on the family in the months before the sheriffs’ visit.  

"Basic question would be, did nobody know about this? Did no one other than those two people, those parents living with those five children, know what was going on?" Bosse says.

The father was described in court as a man who works 12-hour days, seven days a week.

"This is not the case of a man lazing around abusing alcohol, abusing his wife. He was working every day," says the man’s defence lawyer.

But the defence says after the couple’s fifth child, "it just got too overwhelming for them. They quit on themselves. They quit on the children."

The Crown is asking for a sentence of two years in prison. The defence wants a conditional term, such as house arrest.  

The couple will be sentenced in April.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.