Wednesday 22 November 2017

Child victims from 'House of Horrors' begin legal action

Brian McDonald

THE children who were victims in the notorious 'Roscommon House of Horrors' case have taken the first steps in their legal action to sue the State, the Irish Independent has learnt.

The six children, who suffered years of abuse and deprivation at the hands of both of their parents, have begun the legal process to seek redress for their suffering and neglect.

Their action follows the publication last year of the damning report, which was ordered following the separate convictions of their mother and father for numerous horrific offences at a time when their children were at their most vulnerable.

A firm of solicitors has been engaged to pursue the litigation.

The oldest two children are now over 18 and live with relatives, while the other four are settled with foster families and are understood to be acting through their legal guardians.

The inquiry into their life of deprivation and neglect found the children's voices had gone unheard for years until they were taken into care in 2004.

Their mother, an alcoholic, was sentenced in 2009 to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to incest, neglect and wilful ill-treatment.

She described herself as the "worst mother in the world" after Roscommon Circuit Court heard a harrowing catalogue of abuse, including forcing her 13-year-old son to have sex with her.

She was the first woman in Irish legal history to be convicted of incest and the first to be placed on the sex offenders' register.

Cruelty

Her husband was later jailed for 12-and-a-half years for the rape and sexual assault of one of his sons.

The garda who spent more than five years bringing the case to a successful conclusion last night spoke of the "horrific" neglect and cruelty the children suffered.

"It was absolutely frightening what was done to them. There was no heat, food or proper clothing in a rat-infested house and drink was the order of the day -- every day," Sergeant John Hynes said.

"The children were of very tender ages -- the youngest was six and the eldest just 15 and they had a lack of understanding of what was going on. It was only after all access was withdrawn from the parents that we got to understand the horrific nature of the events."

Sgt Hynes has remained in contact with the children and said their lives have since improved greatly. They were now happy children, but still had a long way to go.

He added: "I want to pay tribute to them all for their bravery, especially to the young man who gave evidence against his father over a three-day period in court. He has to be commended for his courage. Their relatives and foster parents have also made a huge difference to their lives in so many ways. They are outstanding people."

Sgt Hynes will receive the National Garda Excellence Award at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Limerick on April 19 for outstanding police work on the case, and on other difficult sex crimes over the last 12 years.

He investigated several disturbing sex crimes over the years but said the Roscommon case was by far the worst.

Irish Independent

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