Monday 21 May 2018

Mother and stepfather jailed for raping girl 'after social services ignored abuse complaints'

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Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A mother and stepfather have been jailed for the rape of a girl who was returned to their care after social services dismissed her as "troublesome".

The parents, now both in their 70s, abused the girl when she was around 13 for up to two months in 1978.

A jury at Southwark Crown Court convicted the man of two counts of rape and the woman of one last week before both were sentenced at the same court on Thursday.

The stepfather - who gasped and muttered "Jesus Christ" at the verdicts - was also found guilty of two counts of indecent assault on her younger sister, referred to in court as C.

The mother was convicted of rape on the basis she aided and abetted him and "encouraged" the attack on the older girl, referred to only as R. None of the parties can be named for legal reasons.

The court heard she remembers her mother climbing into bed with her and removing her clothes before her stepfather raped her.

The man, who has since split from the mother and was living in Stowmarket, Suffolk, was jailed for 13 years, while the woman, who was living in Ireland when she was arrested, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Judge David Tomlinson said: "You are both over 70 and have been dealt with for very grave crimes that happened in the early stages of a relationship you formed with each other in your early thirties.

"There must have been significant planning.

"The betrayal of trust and abandonment of all semblance of care was abhorrent."

To the woman, he said: "You encouraged the offence and set about aiding and abetting it by talking your eldest daughter into submitting to him."

And addressing the man, whose family were sat in the public gallery, the judge said: "You vaginally raped R without any further help from her mother on at least two further occasions."

He added that the older victim had already been "badly damaged" before the attacks, which caused her "severe" physical and psychological harm.

In victim statements read to the court by prosecutor Jose Olivares-Chandler, R said: "My childhood is no different from anyone else's in as much as it has been the foundation of my whole life.

"Where it differs is a world away from happy and normal - instead of being loved, cared for and nurtured I was abused physically and sexually.

"I was scared to death of my mother but loved her and wanted to please her.

"I don't remember ever being cuddled or told 'I love you'.

"It's the age old nature versus nurture. My childhood was purely nature - no love, just survival."

And C wrote: "I still feel ashamed that my family could do this to me.

"I will never forget what occurred and will always have it with me."

During the trial, Mr Olivares-Chandler said social workers in West Sussex were told of the claims, adding: "It looks like the word of a troublesome teenager in the late 1970s about sexual allegations was just dismissed at the time."

The court heard social services had interviewed the man in 1979, when he told them the older stepdaughter's claims were nonsense and said she had "come on to" him.

She later retracted the allegation, the court heard.

The judge said he laid no blame at the door of social services because the older girl had given those who tried to help her "insuperable difficulties" even before the attacks.

He said: "I cannot identify myself with the suggestion that West Sussex social services failed in its duty of care."

Jurors returned 10-2 majority guilty verdicts for both defendants and, after deliberating for nearly eight hours, cleared them on further counts.

The court heard both were in poor health and neither had any relevant previous convictions, nor had reoffended since the attacks.

Both defendants were sentenced to eight years in prison for one count of rape, while the man was also sentenced to 10 years for the second rape count, to run concurrently.

For the indecent assault charges, he was handed concurrent prison terms of two and three years, to run consecutive to the heaviest rape sentence.

Both victims, now in their 50s, did not maintain contact with each other and made separate complaints to police, the latter in August 2013 to Merseyside which police matched to one by the younger sister in Dorset in 2011.

Press Association

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