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  1. Troyhand said:

    Glasgow Herald – 9 October 1987
    Couple jailed for abuse of children

    A 29-year-old mother was jailed for nine months at the Old Bailey in London yesterday for cruelty to her four young children – said to have been underfed and kept in “filthy” conditions over a four year period.

    The woman’s 22-year-old husband was jailed for three years after admitting three charges of indecent assault against one of the children, his step-daughter.

    His assaults on the little girl, now aged seven, began when she was only three, the court was told. He allegedly told police: “I just had to experiment”‘

    Miss Joanna Korner, prosecuting, told the jury it was a “tragic case” in which the four children – the girl, and boys now aged 11, nine and five – were continually neglected and ill-treated.

    Their mother was not infrequently under the influence of drink, drugs, or both, she consistently ignored her children’s medical needs, and they were often ill, said Miss Korner.

    One witness described how she offered food to the children – and they took it “like starving dogs”.

    Lewisham council social worker Miss Heather Simpson said she found two of the children rummaging in a dustbin for food, while the mother was indoors anxious to talk about her new boyfriend.

    She conceded that the failure to remove the children from their mother had caused them much unnecessary suffering.

    Miss Simpson had told the court that after procedures were started in 1984 for removing the children, the mother took them to live in another London borough, and from there she moved to Scotland.

    No further proceedings were taken until 1986, she said.

    “If only we managed it in 1984 we might well have saved these children a great deal of suffering”, said Miss Simpson.

    She told the jury the mother dismissed as “nappy rash” a red mark on the youngest boy’s bottom – which a doctor thought could have been caused by the child being made to sit on a kitchen hot plate.

    The mother had denied cruelty to the four children, but was convicted by the jury of seven men and five women. She was cleared of indecently assaulting the two older boys.

    Miss Korner also criticised the Borough of Lewisham for allegedly failing to help police investigating the case. It was necessary to get a High Court order to force the council to disclose relevant documents, she claimed.

    The council’s view was that the documents were confidential and should not be seen by the police, said Miss Korner.

    Outlining the case against the husband – who, like the rest of the family, cannot be identified – Miss Korner said the couple married in 1981.

    In July 1986 the mother went to Deptford police station, saying her husband had interfered with the girl.

    The husband confessed: “It is true, it is something I had to experiment with.”

    Judge Colston heard that both parents had been sexually abused as children.

    He told the mother that the jury had not found she was “an inadequate mother doing her incompetent best” but that she “failed to an extent which they judge to be criminal to give these children love, protection and care.”

    He told the woman’s husband that his offences involved “the total abrogation” of his duty of protection towards his small stepdaughter.

    “Those who feel little girls are to be used to experiment should understand that the court will do their part to protect little girls from experimentation by you and other like you.”

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