Sixty charges withdrawn in Waterford abuse trial

Father and mother are accused of sexually assaulting their son between 2007 and 2011

A judge has drastically reduced the number of charges against a Waterford father and mother accused of sexually abusing their son.

At the start of week seven of the trial, the jury were told that of the 82 charges against the parents, all but 22 had been withdrawn.

The boy’s father now faces nine counts of raping the boy, nine counts of raping the boy with a poker and one count of cruelty.

The mother now faces two counts of sexual assault relating to allegations she had sex with the boy and one count of cruelty.


Both parents have pleaded not guilty to the allegations, which are alleged to have occurred between 2007 and 2011 in their Waterford home from when the child was about six-years-old.

Mr Justice Robert Eager told the jury that the withdrawal of the 60 counts, including 32 counts of sexual exploitation, is "as a result of legal issues that have arisen" and should not be taken as a judgment on their veracity.

Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC made her closing speech on Monday and counsel for the two accused will close their case on Tuesday.

In her closing speech, Ms Walley said “none of us want to believe this kind of horror could be meted out to a child”, but jurors must judge the case on the evidence they’ve heard.

“When you look at the innocent-looking photos of the family home with the slides and playhouse we all want to believe that all was right in that house,” she said.

“We want to reassure ourselves that the world is a safe place. None of us want to believe this kind of thing could happen to children.”

She acknowledged the now 12-year-old child was sometimes “inconsistent” during his testimony, but asked the jury to consider if this is the evidence of a child who is trying to “block out” what happened to him.

She said he was recalling events “from when he was six or seven, which is half a lifetime ago for [the boy].

“If this was some deliberate lie that was dreamt up why go into all that detail?” she asked.

“Is that detail indicative of someone who’s telling the truth no matter how appalling that truth was?”

‘Shocking behaviour’

Ms Walley said that, after being removed from the family home, the child stayed with two foster families, before being put into specialised residential care in the UK because of his “terrifying” and “shocking” behaviour.

This behaviour included making sexual threats to his foster mother, interfering with animals and an obsession with faeces.

Ms Walley asked where this behaviour could have come from.

Ms Walley said the boy had been “expertly” cross-examined by the defence, who “left no stone unturned”.

She said if the boy was making up the allegations, this would surely have been shown during the cross-examination.