60 charges withdrawn in Waterford child abuse trial
A judge has drastically reduced the number of charges against a Waterford father and mother accused of sexually abusing their young 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start of week seven of the trial the jury were told that of the 82 charges against the parents, all but 22 have been withdrawn.
Defence counsel have declined to call witnesses and the trial is now in its final stages.
Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley SC made her closing speech today and counsel for the two accused will close their case tomorrow before Mr Justice Robert Eagar instructs the jury on the legal issues involved.
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 six years old.
Mr Justice Eagar 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 judgement on their veracity.
In the her closing speech, Mr Walley said “none of us want to believe this kind of horror could be meted out to a child” but that 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” in his allegations 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?”
Referring to the delay of two years between the child being taken into care and him making abuse allegations against his mother, Mr Walley asked if this was due to “the repugnance of a child describing what cannot be described- the ultimate taboo?”
Counsel said 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 which included making sexual threats to his foster mother, interfering with animals and an obsession with faeces.
Mr Walley asked where this behaviour could have come from.
She pointed to the child's evidence of his father owning many guns which he allegedly used to threaten the boy.
Ms Walley said this might seem “fantastic” but said that other seemingly fantastic claims by the child were shown to be true during the trial, such as his claim that his father won the lottery or that his parents invited people around to watch pornographic films.
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.