LONDON, England (Reuters) -- A mother who forced her two-year-old son and three year-old daughter to fight each other as she and three other women filmed them was spared jail on Friday.
The women laughed and swore as they encouraged the tearful children to punch and kick each other during the home video.
The boy, crying and wearing just a nappy and T-shirt, was taunted with gay slurs and goaded into punching his sister after she hit him.
"It was extremely upsetting footage," prosecutor David Gittins told BBC News 24 outside Plymouth Crown Court. "It showed that the conduct of these defendants, all four of them, was totally and utterly unacceptable.
"The children were so distressed and time and time again were ... pushed back into the ring to keep fighting each other when they clearly didn't want to."
Police said the footage had "sickened and saddened" everyone working on the case. The children's father discovered the tape by chance.
In a statement, their family said: "The gravity of these events has placed an enormous strain on our family, who had no idea that these women were capable of acts of such wanton cruelty."
Police said the children are well and staying with relatives.
The four women, all members of the same Plymouth family, were given one-year suspended sentences for child cruelty offences. They left court without comment.