Munster child-abuse trial jury resumes deliberations

Five family members are accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016

The jury in a Munster child abuse trial  has resumed its deliberations

The jury in a Munster child abuse trial has resumed its deliberations

 

The jury in the trial of a Munster child abuse trial has resumed its deliberations on Friday at the Central Criminal Court.

Mr Justice Paul McDermott sent the jury out just before lunchtime on Thursday, on the ninth week of the trial, which has been sitting in a temporary courtroom in Croke Park.

The judge said to the jury “there was no restriction on time” and to return verdicts based on the evidence before them.

He sent the jury home just after 4pm after it had been deliberating for almost 2½ hours.

Earlier in the trial, Mr Justice McDermott directed the jury on a number of legal principles including the burden of proof, presumption of innocence and the ingredients of each of the alleged offences. He also summarised the evidence that was heard during the nine-week trial.

He told the jury that the indictment sets out an extensive set of counts, each of which represent a separate trial.

“The ingredients of the offence as set out in each count have to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, if there is any doubt they have to be acquitted,” Mr Justice McDermott said before he added every separate accused should also be treated separately.

The five family members, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are accused of abusing three children between 2014 and 2016. The accused are the parents, aunt and uncles of the children. They range in ages from 27 to 56 and live in various locations in Munster.

The parents are also accused of neglecting five of their children. All of the accused have denied the charges against them.

Reporting restrictions are in place to protect the welfare and identities of the children.

The 56-year-old father has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts including rape, anal rape, oral rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation and wilfully neglecting a child at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014 and April 28th, 2016. An additional three counts against him were withdrawn during the trial.

The 34-year-old mother has pleaded not guilty to 25 counts including sexual assault, sexual exploitation and wilfully neglecting a child at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014 and April 28th, 2016.

The mother and father have also pleaded not guilty to wilfully neglecting another two of their children at a location in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014 and April 28th, 2016.

A 35-year-old woman – the children’s aunt – has pleaded not guilty to three counts, including sexually assaulting the girl and sexually assaulting one of the boys at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014, and April 28th, 2016.

Her 49-year-old husband has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts including rape, anal rape, oral rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014 and April 28th, 2016. Two additional counts were withdrawn during the trial.

A 27-year-old man – the children’s uncle – has pleaded not guilty to 10 counts including rape, oral rape, anal rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation at locations in Munster on unknown dates between August 18th, 2014, and April 28th, 2016.

A count of alleged sexual exploitation by him of the eldest boy was withdrawn by order of the trial judge.

The case against two other women – the children’s uncle’s 32-year-old partner and their 57-year-old grandmother – was withdrawn earlier in the trial by direction of the judge.