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Friday 2 December 2016

She cannot harm you or your siblings any more, says judge

Barry Duggan

Published 15/07/2011 | 05:00

SHE beat her children with wooden branches, hammers, frying pans, whips, lumps of coal, glass bottles, cups, blocks, and horse straps.

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She regularly gave them black eyes from punching them.

She 'skinned' her daughters' hair so they wouldn't leave home.

One daughter was tied to a tree in the middle of winter and left "until she was nearly dead" because she had not washed clothes. When she finally untied her girl, the mother simply laughed. For those listening in the courtroom yesterday, the horror of what her eight children endured at the hands of their mother was almost too much to bear.

Living in caravans, the family moved regularly and set up camp in isolated, rural locations across the country.

They had three caravans -- but only the mother was allowed inside the caravan storing her coveted possessions.

From the day they were born, the children had no running water, sanitary facilities or electricity. The mother controlled all financial affairs to the detriment of her children. Any money the children got, she took from them and lodged in a post office account. She even took their Holy Communion money and spent it on cigarettes and alcohol.

The heinous offences were committed in the caravans and others at quiet wooded areas.

Some of the children went to secondary school, but others were denied an education and kept at home to work or beg for her.

During the few days one daughter went to school, she said she could not concentrate because she was thinking of the bad things that awaited her at home.

The children were locked in their caravan and given wet sheets to sleep on. They regularly had nothing to eat, or just a piece of dry bread.

When two children ran away from home, the mother blamed a son and daughter and gave them "an awful beating".

Vodka

On other occasions, the children were beaten after begging their mother to stop assaulting their siblings.

When her six-year-old daughter was bleeding from her genitals, the mother refused to bring her to hospital. She bled for a week-and-a-half with a sister attempting to care for her from a press full of bloody nappies. Over time, the mother's alcohol addiction grew to the point where she consumed up to two bottles of vodka a day.

Six of the children are now in care. A social worker reported that when taken from the mother, the two youngest daughters had severe head lice infestation, throat and ear infections, overate when placed into foster care, and didn't know what underwear was for.

Addressing one daughter yesterday, Judge Raymond Groarke said: "Your mother cannot harm you and your siblings again."

Irish Independent

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