The 12-year-old son of a woman found guilty of child cruelty has told a court in a victim impact report that he doesn’t believe she did anything wrong.
The child said he put the blame on his father (64), who was convicted last May of nine counts of raping the boy when he aged six and seven. The trial at the Central Criminal Court heard he also put the child in a wooden box and nailed it shut in their Waterford home.
On Tuesday, Mr Justice Robert Eager said he would not impose sentence on the 37-year-old woman until he has dealt with her partner, who is next due in court on September 23rd. The judge remanded the woman in continuing custody until October 17th.
In his report the boy, who is now in specialised residential care in the UK, told the court he wished he “could have taken her away from” from his father.
The boy called his mother a “kind woman” who he felt sorry for her but wished that she had taken him away or placed him in care when the abuse started.
He said he was angry with her for staying with his father but that she was manipulated by the man. He said he remains loyal to his mother and would like to meet in the future “and just chat with her”.
The court heard that child continues to behave aggressively as a result of the abuse but is no longer displaying the sexualised behaviour he presented with when first taken into care. He is two years behind in school.
A psychological report stated his parent’s trial, which lasted seven weeks, “re-traumatised him” and caused his symptoms, including sleeplessness, anxiety and hyper-vigilance, to get worse. This delayed plans to enrol him in mainstream schooling. The child spent nine days giving evidence via video-link during the trial.
During a post-trial meeting with a psychologist he said “please tell me this is it or I’m going to find a bus and jump in front of it”.
A report stated he continues to be verbally aggressive and his long-term mental and physical health is likely to be affected by the abuse.
A jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted the 64-year-old father, who is from the UK, of nine counts of raping his son from the age of six and one count of child cruelty. He was acquitted of raping the child with a poker.
The woman, who is also from the UK, was convicted of child cruelty but found not guilty of sex assault relating to allegations she had sex or simulated sex with her child.
‘Motivated by fear’
Both parents had pleaded not guilty to the offences, which occurred between 2009 and 2011 in their Waterford home.
Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC said the facts about the mother’s involvement were “ambivalent”. The barrister said she was aware of her partner’s abuse but was “motivated by her fear of him”.
Ms Walley said she was being "deliberately circumspect about the wider allegations" because the accused was acquitted of the sexual abuse allegations. Mr Justice Eagar said this was "appropriate".
The court heard the woman herself has suffered abuse for much of her life. When she was seven and living in the UK her mother’s boyfriend started sexually abusing her, she said. She became pregnant by him when she was 14 and the child was taken into care. The man denied being the father but DNA tests showed he was.
The woman married this man when she was 17 and he brought her to Ireland where they had two further children which were also taken into care. In 1999, the marriage ended when she alleged continuing physical and sexual abuse by him.
She met another man with whom she had a child which was also taken into care. In 2001 she met her current partner and became pregnant with the boy at the centre of this case.
John O’Kelly SC, defending, said she fell into a “perfect storm of abuse”. At 14 she considered suicide because of the abuse but does not appear to have any ongoing serious psychological problems, according to a report.
She had a mild cognitive disability and attended special schools growing up. A psychological report said she was dependent on the boy’s father and would have been unable to protect the child from him. She remained in regular contact with her partner, who was also in custody, through letters and phone calls.
Mr O’Kelly asked for a non-custodial sentence. He said his client “never had a chance from the age of seven” and “has had hardly any breaks in life expect for the very worst kind that can occur”.