Tuesday 25 October 2016

Boy (7) 'locked in a box' by his father wanted to take his own life

Warning: this report contains distressing evidence

Conor Gallagher

Published 23/09/2016 | 15:17

Abuse. Stock photo
Abuse. Stock photo

A CHILD who was repeatedly raped by his father and locked in a box wanted to take his own life at the age of seven because of the abuse a court has heard.

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Today the Central Criminal Court heard a summary of what the prosecution called a “catalogue of horrors” which took place over a two year period in the family home in Waterford.

Mr Justice Robert Eager remanded the father in continuing custody until October 10th when he will finalise sentence. The man's partner who was convicted on the sole count of child cruelty will be sentenced on October 17th.

A jury convicted the 64 year old father, who is from the UK, of nine counts of raping his son from the age of six years old and one count of child cruelty. He was acquitted of raping the child with a poker.

His 38 year old partner, who is also from the UK, was convicted of child cruelty but found not guilty of sex assault relating to allegations she had sex or simulated sex with her child when he was between six and seven.

Both parents had pleaded not guilty to the offences which occurred between 2009 and 2011 in their home. The parents had originally faced a total of 82 charges but 60 of these were withdrawn following legal argument.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the now 13 year old boy wrote that “when I lived with my mam and dad I wanted to dispose myself of this world, I wanted to commit suicide.”

It wasn't until he was taken into foster care that his childhood started, he wrote.

The boy is currently in specialised care in the UK. He wrote that when he first arrived in the UK he asked to be called by a different name because he was worried his father would find him.

He referred to his father as “Adolf Hitler” and said he wanted to “run him over with a combine harvester”.

“Words have not even been invented yet for what my dad has done to me,” he wrote.

“I want to say au revoir to my memories. I would like my dad never to leave prison. I am happy when he is in prison.”

The boy continued: “Now that dad is locked up I would walk over to Ireland without a care in the world.”

He said he wants to return to Ireland to become a police officer and write a book about his life. He would like to meet his father in the future to ask him why he abused him.

In a previous victim impact report relating to his mother the child said he doesn't believe she did anything wrong.

The boy called his mother a “kind woman” who he felt sorry for her but wished that she had taken him away or placed him in care when the abuse started.

A psychological report stated the child is two years behind in school and has difficulties forming relationships.

He was removed from the family home in 2011 and placed in a foster home where he was sexually abused by another child. This child was never prosecuted because he was below the age of criminal responsibility.

In March 2012 he was moved to another foster home where he was very happy. He began disclosing the sexual abuse by his father to this foster mother who documented it and handed it over to gardaí.

The foster mother “loved the child to bits” the court heard but was forced to give up care of him because he was displaying disturbing behaviour. He was spying on her in the shower, acting inappropriately with other children and was obsessed with faeces.

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, were forced to put him in specialised residential care in the UK as no suitable place was available in Ireland.

The psychologist said he was displaying highly sexualised behaviour but this has improved over time.

The father was convicted of anally raping the child on nine occasions but acquitted of raping him with a poker. Other charges relating to allegations that the father forced the boy to have sex with his mother were withdrawn from the jury.

The boy described one occasion where his father was assembling a wooden box. He asked his father what it was for and the father replied “it's for you” before pushing him in. The boy was in there for three or four hours before his mother released him.

The defence submitted this comprised the child cruelty charge. However the prosecution contended the charge encompassed a wider “catalogue of horror” including showing the boy pornographic material.

Defence counsel Colman Cody SC said his client intends to appeal the conviction and does not agree with the jury's verdict.

He said the man has six previous convictions for theft and drink driving but none for violent or sexual offences.

Mr Cody submitted that the maximum sentence of life imprisonment is reserved for only the most exceptional cases “involving particular violence or depravity”. He said these characteristics are absent from this case.

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