Parents who 'brainwashed' their three children to hide years of horrific abuse face jail
The Chorley, Lancashire, couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, subjected their children to years of abuse but convinced them that their sadistic punishments were 'horseplay'The parents were convicted of four counts of child cruelty having previously admitted five similar offences
00:08 GMT, 7 December 2012
Horrific: A care worker and her husband hid years of abuse by 'brainwashing' their children into thinking their punishments were 'horseplay' (file picture)
A care-home worker and her husband who subjected their children to years of horrific abuse were facing jail yesterday after being convicted of cruelty.
The couple hid their crimes for years by lying to social services and ‘brainwashing’ their daughter and two sons into believing their sadistic punishments were ‘horseplay’, a court heard.
Details of their shocking attacks included:
■ Pressing red-hot spoons against their children’s skin and holding knives to their necks;
■ Beating them with belt buckles and metal coat-hangers;
■ Making their daughter sleep in a tent for three weeks in freezing conditions after wetting her bed; and
■ Stabbing her with a dirty needle and telling her she would die of Aids.
Following a week-long trial the parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were convicted of four counts of child cruelty, having previously admitted five similar offences.
They will be sentenced next year, and could face a maximum prison sentence of ten years.
Judge Pamela Badley said: ‘This is a very distressing case, and one where your heart went out to the children whose bitterness while giving evidence was quite palpable. The children have clearly been brainwashed and each parent seemed to have their own agenda, blaming each other and saying they were manipulated by the other into carrying out the abuse.
‘The defendants are clearly going to be facing custodial sentences.’
Preston Crown Court heard how the father would punch his children in the groin and hold their heads underwater.
Their mother, a care-home worker, boasted to a friend that she headbutted the children and once hit them so hard that she burst a blood vessel in her hand.
However, despite complaints to social services and the children’s school by a family friend ‘every week’, the youngsters remained in their parents’ care in Chorley, Lancashire, until the eldest approached the police.
The friend told the jury that her concerns were dismissed as ‘malicious’. ‘The children begged me to ring social services but my complaints were dismissed,’ she said. ‘I’ve lost count of the amount of times I rang.’ However, Ann Pennell of Lancashire County Council said it investigated every complaint of abuse.
Hearing: The pair were convicted of four counts of child cruelty at Preston Crown Court (pictured)
‘All referrals that we receive, including those in this case, are investigated and acted upon accordingly,’ she stressed.
The couple’s younger son said he had been driven to the brink of suicide by his treatment.
‘I was in constant fear,’ he said. ‘It got to the point where I would sit in the kitchen and think, “If I grab hold of a knife and ram it in my heart it will all be over”.’
The children were originally placed into foster care in 1997.
Their parents separated shortly afterwards, and their father started a new relationship.
However, in 2001, after the death of their foster parent, they were returned to the care of their father and his new wife.
In 2003 their father divorced and resumed his relationship with the children’s mother, and went on to marry her.
In 2004, care orders were made for all three children, but they remained with their parents.
The abuse eventually came to light in March 2010, after the eldest child complained to the police.