Wednesday 26 October 2016

Hellish life of a boy tortured and abused by his parents

Greg Harkin

Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30

The boy’s foster mother said she loved him dearly but wasn’t able
handle his behaviour. The last thing he said to her before leaving was: ‘I feel like a dog that nobody wants’. Picture posed.
The boy’s foster mother said she loved him dearly but wasn’t able handle his behaviour. The last thing he said to her before leaving was: ‘I feel like a dog that nobody wants’. Picture posed.

It was one of the most disturbing cases of incest and abuse ever to come to the attention of the authorities here - so bad, in fact, that specialist care had to be sourced in England for its victim, shocked social workers have said.

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The victim - a boy aged six and seven at the time of horrific abuse meted out by his father and mother - needed specialist treatment before he felt able to give evidence against his parents.

As the perpetrators - the dad is 64, the mother 38 - await sentence after being found guilty on a range of cruelty and abuse charges, more details of his living hell at his Waterford home between 2009 and 2011 have emerged.

The boy has a teacher to thank for his escape.

She suspected he was the victim of cruelty and, once the boy broke down and told of his life at the hands of his father, social workers moved quickly.

The boy would later tell a foster carer: "I feel like a dog that nobody wants."

The case was "at the extreme end" of those dealt with by social workers and gardaí to date.

Tusla, the child and family agency, said the boy's highly sexualised behaviour was so rare and so disturbing, they had to ask for specialist help from England.

"There are a small number of children whose life experiences require that the State not just take them into care but ensure specialised care is provided for them," a spokeswoman told the Irish Independent.

"The level of specialised intervention required is, on rare occasions, not available in Ireland due to Ireland's smaller population.

"In such cases, a child or young person may, quite exceptionally, be placed in out-of-State care. In such cases - and always in the interests of the child - priority is given to the level of care, rather than jurisdictional boundaries."

She added: "Key to all decisions made by Tusla when placing a child in out-of-state care is the health and well-being of the child and their access to the highest quality support in circumstances where often catastrophic life events have left them requiring very specialised care."

Care workers also moved to protect two of the boy's siblings - two others are now adults.

The younger children are being adopted. Their mother will never see them ever again after being found guilty of cruelty yesterday.

She had been 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.

On Friday, the jury convicted the woman's 64-year-old partner, who is also from the UK, of nine counts of raping his son from the age of six years of age, and child cruelty. They acquitted him of raping the child with an implement.

The child gave evidence that it was his father who raped and beat him and locked him in a box for six hours.

The charge of cruelty which the woman was convicted of was a general charge of allowing the abuse to happen at the hands of her partner.

The boy's father faced nine counts of raping the boy, nine counts of raping the boy with an implement, and one count of cruelty.

The mother faced two counts of sexual assault, relating to allegations she had sex with the boy, and one count of cruelty.

The parents had originally faced a total of 82 charges but 60 of these were withdrawn last week following legal argument.

The jury in the case sat through seven weeks of often harrowing evidence, so detailed that Mr Justice Robert Eagar excused them from serving on a jury for a period of 15 years.

The child had told gardaí that his mother willingly "had sex" with him while his father watched and filmed it.

The footage, the boy claimed, was then shown to visitors coming into their Waterford home.

Other allegations heard by the jury included that the father defecated on the child and threatened to kill him while holding a gun to his head.

The child was taken into care just before his eighth birthday after telling his teacher his father had been beating him: "I can't take it any more," he said.

He was sent to a foster home where widespread sexual abuse occurred. The boy was sexually abused by another boy while in foster care. A third child is awaiting sentence for sexual abuse he carried out in the house.

Tusla says it acted as soon as it became aware of these incidents, and gardaí were informed.

The boy was moved to another foster home where he built up a level of trust with his foster parents and began confiding in his foster mother. She kept a daily log of his allegations.

But his behaviour became more and more disturbing.

He made sexual threats to the foster mother when he got upset, was found interfering with animals, and seemed to have an obsession with faeces.

His foster mother told the trial she loved the boy dearly but couldn't handle his behaviour and the HSE stepped in.

The last thing he said to his foster mother before leaving was: "I feel like a dog that nobody wants".

The boy, she said, had begun writing about his life. He had referred to this as his "hell".

The now 12-year-old remains in a specialist care unit in the UK. He gave evidence via video-link from a room in the Old Bailey in London. Several concessions were made for the child witness under the new EU directive on victims rights, the first time it has been used in an Irish court.

Barristers did not wear wigs or gowns and the boy did not have to take an oath. Instead, Mr Justice Eagar asked him if he knew the difference between telling the truth and telling lies.

The child also had an intermediary with him who explained questions and helped clarify his answers.

The judge told jurors the law has traditionally thought it dangerous to convict without corroborative evidence but said the jury could return guilty verdicts if they believed the child.

And, after seven long weeks of harrowing evidence, they did.

Irish Independent

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