Monday 20 November 2017

Father to be sentenced for litany of vile abuse against his children

Brian McDonald

Tomorrow in the Central Criminal Court Mr Justice Barry White will pronounce sentence on one of the most evil men to have ever been tried by the Irish judicial system.

As a husband and father he presided over an Irish 'house of horrors' as six neglected children attempted to survive the most appalling neglect and vile sexual abuse.

Just over a year ago his equally evil wife was sentenced to seven years in prison for an appalling litany of neglect and sexual avarice.

The 40-year-old woman described herself as the worst mother in the world after admitting she had forced her 13-year-old son to repeatedly have sex with her. She committed incest with the young boy at the family home on a number of occasions in 2004.

The woman also admitted six charges of neglecting and wilfully ill-treating all of her six children between 1998 and 2004 at the family's three-bedroom bungalow.

From the time they were born until they were placed in foster care in 2004, the children were subjected to appalling neglect and a range of disturbing abuse, the court heard. They had little food and were constantly hungry, only got dinner twice a week, were always dirty, unwashed and smelly and were regularly left at home alone.

The family home, described as "a house of horrors . . . with bells on" was constantly untidy, rotting bits of food lay discarded in kitchen presses, the children were often blue with the cold and their hair was crawling with large lice.

Mice ran freely around every room in the house and crawled across their bedclothes at night, while rats roamed around the back. On one occasion five dead rats were deposited by the family cat at the back door.

A garda investigation began in 2005 after the eldest child made certain disclosures to HSE staff.

In a statement taken in June 2005, the boy described his home as a kip. It was always untidy and dirty with rubbish thrown about everywhere. The house was always cold and the walls were damp. The range was only lit once a month and the children were left alone at night while their mother went to the pub. He and his brother were left to care for the younger children and their mother would come home at 3 or 4am, very drunk and arguing.

His sister told a similar story in her statement. Any food she got to eat was cold and when her mother was drunk the house was "scary". She was bullied at school and other children called her smelly. She had "nits" in her hair which were always crawling down her face. She and her sister were not allowed to tie up their hair, because the lice would be too obvious. Her mother never washed their clothes.

The court heard that sometimes the mother either packed their dirty clothes away in a plastic bag or burnt them. She then bought other ill-fitting clothes from a Traveller woman who called to the house.

Her older sister recalled other children at school refusing to play with her because she was "smelly". Another girl drew a picture of a monkey and put her name on it. The child added in her statement that: "Mammy didn't take care of us right."

When arrested by gardai in 2006 the woman admitted her children had been blue with the cold and dirty. She simply told them to put on their coats. She also admitted that sometimes the children were left with no underwear.

Referring to the state of her home, she told gardai in an interview: "It was unbelievably dirty . . . I knew it was my fault. I was too lazy." Later she added: "Yes, I believe that they were treated cruelly by me."

In March 2003 the second eldest boy told the gardai his mother had made him have sex with her on four occasions. She had come home from the pub drunk and called him into her bed. She took off her nightdress and told him to remove his pyjamas before engaging him in penetrative sex. "I was crying. She was my mother. Why did she do that to me?", he asked in his statement.

This happened on three other occasions, the boy said. One time she came to the sitting room and lay on the couch before getting him to have sex with her.

After the children were taken into care in 2004, his mother threatened him, during a supervised visit, that if he told of what happened she would bring him into the bathroom and have sex with him, the court heard. But the mother, a prostitute who brought men home and had sex in front of some of the children, was not the only predator in the home.

The evil 52-year-old husband was convicted earlier this month of numerous charges of rape and sexual assault against one of his sons. This brutal behaviour and the fact that the children were often left alone into the early hours to watch pornographic films on video led to one of the teenage sons habitually raping one of his younger sisters.

Throughout his trial the father consistently denied all charges and accused his son of lying. But his wife gave evidence of witnessing her son being raped and claimed that when she challenged her husband, he assaulted her.

The outcome of an inquiry into the case and how the authorities failed to intervene in time to prevent the abuse continuing over many years will shortly be published.

One of the most controversial aspects of the inquiry will be the role played by a right-wing Catholic organisation which intervened successfully at one stage to prevent the children being taken into care, thus effectively allowing the abuse to continue for a further four years.

The family lived in the west of Ireland but cannot be identified to protect the identities of the children who are now in care.

Sunday Independent

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