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Roscommon "house of horrors" officer honoured

A Garda sergeant who led the investigation into the Roscommon "house of horrors" incest case has received an award for his work.

Sgt John Hynes said the six children at the centre of the harrowing ordeal were all getting on well with their lives.

He was recognised with a Garda Excellence Award for his role in the inquiry which led to the prosecution of the parents of the children, who were sexually abused and neglected for years.

After receiving the award at the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors' annual conference, he said ruining a childhood was the worst thing anyone could do.

"I don't think we'll ever know the full extent of what those children suffered," he said.

"They were able to relay the abuse suffered at the hands of their parents when the access was taken away from their parents.

"We were able to gain their trust. For someone living in such fear, all it takes is one look from that person to have the fear instilled in someone."

The so-called "house of horrors" case is considered one of the worst abuse cases to come before the Irish courts.

The children were starved, beaten, raped and infested with head lice in their rat-infested remote home.

Their mother was jailed for seven years in January 2009 on 10 counts of incest, sexual abuse and neglect of her children, including forcing her 13-year-old son to have sex with her.

She was the first woman to be convicted of incest in Ireland.

Last year her husband was handed a 14-year-sentence on 47 counts of rape and sexual assault.

Sgt Hynes said the children, the eldest of whom is now 22 and the youngest is 12, are getting on well with their lives.

Some are in foster care, while others live with relatives.

"Some of my children were the same age," said Sgt Hynes.

"I would come home after spending a day doing interviews and look at my own children and think how lucky they are.

"I wouldn't have got through it without my family."

Sgt Hynes has specialised in child abuse investigations for the past 13 years.

He said the Roscommon case was "by far the worst".

Sgt Hynes said: "The real heroes and the ones that should be recognised are the children. And in this case I want to dedicate the award to the six children for their bravery and courage in coming forward."

He added: "I want to thank the six children involved in the case for their courage and commitment in coming forward to the gardai and assisting the gardai. If it was not for them doing so their parents would still be where they are doing what they did."