French authorities are seeking to contain public outrage over their failure to protect a young boy who was locked up in a cell-like bedroom for seven years by his abusive parents.

Detectives in Millau, central France, discovered Dylan, a skinny, naked, seven-year-old, huddled in the dark on a urine-soaked mattress on Tuesday. He had never been to school, never seen a doctor and never been allowed to play with other children.

The boy was shut in his bedroom every evening when his father came home from work. The door was locked from the outside and the claret-coloured shutters were padlocked.

The light switch was outside the bedroom and it was kept off. If Dylan wanted to go the toilet – which was kept locked – he was forbidden. The only furnishings in his room were a bed covered in a two blankets but no sheet, a desk without drawers and a Pikachu doll.

"A prison cell would have been more comfortable,” said Patrick Desjardins, state prosecutor in Millau. "The deprivation of this little boy had reached an extremely rare and serious stage."

Commander Eric Delchambre, police chief in Millau, told The Times that Dylan was regularly beaten by his father. "They weren't smacks with the palm of the hand on the bottom. They were punches to the body."

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