Five years for 'heartless tormentor' mum

Published Friday, 11 April 2014
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A Co Down mother who sexually assaulted her own children and allowed them to be sexually abused by other men has been described as a "heartless tormentor" by a judge who handed down a five year, eight month jail term.

Five years for 'heartless tormentor' mum
Six defendants were sentenced at Belfast Crown Court. (© UTV)

The mother, who can't be named to protect the identity of her children, carried out the abuse over 30 years ago.

From when they were babies, the four children suffered a litany of abuse at the hands of both their mother and father during the 1970s and 1980s.

The father regularly beat the children while the mother sexually abused them and allowed two of their uncles and other men to carry out sexual assaults on them.

The woman also made her children watch her having sex with other men, usually while drunk, and sometimes even with her own brothers.

The mother cried as the judge told her she would spend five years and eight months in jail.

He described her crimes as "criminal, shameful and despicable".

The father will spend four years in prison for cruelly neglecting the children and beating them regularly.

A former police officer who visited the children's house, will spend 18 months in jail.

One uncle was given two years and nine months while the other was given a six month sentence suspended for two years.

Another man was given a one year term.

Your chilly indifference to your children’s welfare generally and your complicity in the sexually deviant behaviour you inflicted on [three of them] speaks of a heartless tormentor interested primarily in her own pleasures and enjoyment. However I accept that you are not a predatory paedophile. Not only are you pathetic, weak willed and inept but you are also selfish and uncaring.

Mr Justice Horner

A senior detective who investigated the crimes said he was "pleased" the defendants will pay for their crimes and praised the courage of the victims for coming forward.

Senior investigating officer, Detective Inspector Richard Graham said: "I have nothing but praise for the dignity and bravery of the victims involved in this case.

"They have shown immense strength and determination throughout this process.

"They have never wavered in their resolve to see justice done.

"We hope it sends a clear message to others who have endured this type of abuse - no matter when it took place -they should speak out and contact the PSNI as successful prosecutions can be secured.

"We are pleased that these defendants have now been sentenced and will pay for their crimes."

I was frightened but it's one of those things where you are so used to it you go numb, you have no feelings.

Woman abused by mother as a child

The victims thanked the investigation team following the sentencing.

In a statement they said that they hoped the case sent out a message of hope and justice. They encouraged anyone who may have suffered abuse to report it.

Speaking to UTV, one of the victims who was abused by her mother and another man, said her life growing up in the family was "rough" and described her mother as "evil".

"She was an alcoholic, I always remembered her drunk all the time, I am aware of the comings and goings of men in the house, especially I was much younger than the rest of the siblings, I just remember a lot of coming and going inside the house and her drinking and entertaining males," she said.

"Not knowing any better, I thought it was normal."

She said she doesn't remember much of her abuse as she was an infant, but she does remember being "cold and starving" and seeing mice in the house.

The woman said she had read files stating social services found her either in a cot or strapped to a baby stroller during house calls, but her mother would lie about how long she had been there.

"She would have told the social worker that I had just been put into the cot, or I had just woken up, the same story would have happened about the stroller, but the social worker would have lifted me out of the stroller, there would have been marks behind my legs that would have proved I was obviously stuck in the same spot for a long time."

I think that social workers at the time did what they believed was in the best interest of these children, based on what they knew at the time, and sadly that wasn’t enough to fully protect these children.

Ian Sutherland, South Eastern Trust

She described a rare moment of kindness from adults when school dinner ladies gave her extra portions of food.

She added that sitting in court throughout the case had been difficult but added the fact they admitted offences made her think that her abusers must have "some type of guilt".

"I'll be glad to see them behind bars really. It just means there has been some type of justice done."

While her brother, who was the first to report the abuse, described knowing from an early age that the acts his mother forced him into were "wrong" but said he was beaten and threatened to keep quiet.

"As far as I'm concerned I don't have a mother anymore," he told UTV.

He said the children were too afraid to even talk about the abuse to each other and he hadn't been aware that they were also victims until he was eight or nine.

"I was very very terrified of her, about what she was making me do and what she was doing to me."

He described the abuse as something that has had long-lasting effects on his life.

"I can't have relationships, it doesn't last long, I find it hard to talk to any girlfriends that I've had over the years, it's just ruined my life."

The children feel that they were badly let down by social services at the time - the woman's son said the abuse continued even after they were eventually taken into care.

Ian Sutherland, director of Children's Services and Social Work at the South Eastern Trust reacted: "No child should ever experience this type of abuse, but I suppose the outcome of the proceedings today show that anyone who perpetrates abuse, whenever that occurred, will be brought in front of the full rigours of the law.

"Today social workers, police officers and all the agencies involved in protecting children, have a much better range of procedures, guidance and resources to ensure that we share information much better and work more closely together to ensure that children are much better protected."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
14 Comments
Caterina in Newtownabbey wrote (259 days ago):
I agree with everyones commentz 5 years is an easy sentence there have been people locked up longer for arson and mutder etc thise kids suffered at the hands of family and other men which is disgusting they should all get 15 years each giving them 5 years is stupid this gives a message to other abusers saying u can do what u want cus ull get an easy 5 years
anon in Dundrum wrote (260 days ago):
this makes me sick. u get a longer sentence for arson or burglary. what kind of justice is this? none. same old message that if u commit crimes against children its ok cos u get minimal sentences. when are the courts gonna realise the extent of the damage caused to victims???
Ciarán in Belfast wrote (261 days ago):
Reading this makes me so glad of the loving and caring family I have. My heart goes out to these people.
D in Beal Feirste wrote (261 days ago):
This is an absolute horrific crime that these poor children suffered at the hands of their very own mother someone who is supposed to take care and love and nurture them and not let them come to any harm but yet the opposite was inflicted in these poor children who will probably never lead a normal life again due to the mental scars they have endured!!!!!! A measley five years is a slap in the face to these children what the hell was the judge thinking!!!! Lock her up and throw away the key so she has a lifetime if mental torture thinking about what she has done!!!
Elaine in Belfast wrote (261 days ago):
5 years is a joke. These childrens whole lives have been ruined and yet this woman gets 5 years in prison. Disgusting.
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