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Mother jailed after failing to protect son from 'extreme sexual violence'

CourtsBy Sunday World
The mother was convicted of a single count of child cruelty
The mother was convicted of a single count of child cruelty

A mother who failed to protect her six year old son from “extreme sexual violence” by his father has been jailed for 18 months.

Last week the child's father was jailed for 14 years for raping the child and locking him in a wooden box in the family home in Waterford.

The mother was convicted of a single count of child cruelty relating to the events in the house. Today Mr Justice Robert Eagar said he was sentencing her on the basis that she was aware of the abuse of her son but failed to protect him or alert the authorities.

The court previously heard the boy believes his mother is a “kind woman” and doesn't think she did anything wrong. The woman said she believes the now 13 year told boy has made up all the allegations against his father and that she wants no further contact with him as a result.

She has stated that her son made up the allegations after being manipulated by the HSE after being taken into emergency care when he was seven.

Reports handed into the court stated the woman has a mild to significant intellectual disability, is highly suggestive and vulnerable to exploitation.

Although she has been in custody since conviction last May she remains in regular phone and written contact with the child's father and prison staff are concerned she is being manipulated by the man.

The reports also detailed the woman's “appalling family background” where sexual abuse had been the norm. She grew up in the UK where she was sexually abused by her mother's partner from the age of seven before becoming pregnant to him at age 14.

She moved to Ireland with the man before having three more children, all of whom were taken into care. She met her co-accused in 2001 and had a fifth child, the boy at the centre of this case, in 2003.

Mr Justice Eagar said the woman had failed to protect her son. He said she was aware who the local gardaí were but failed to take any steps to alert them.

“It appears from the evidence she was aware to some extent of the extreme sexual violence against her son,”he said. “She was aware he was locked in the box.”

He noted an assessment which stated the woman is at a moderate risk of reoffending. She is unlikely to “engage in wanton cruelty to others” but has a limited capacity to maintain a caring and safe environment for a child.

The judge imposed a three year sentence with the final 18 months suspended on several conditions including that she have no contact with her partner for that period. There was no reaction from the woman.

Last May a jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted the 66 year old father, who is also from the UK, of nine counts of raping his son from the age of six years old and one count of child cruelty. He was acquitted of raping the child with a poker.

The woman was convicted of child cruelty but found not guilty of sex assault relating to allegations she had sex or simulated sex with her child,

Both parents had pleaded not guilty to the offences which occurred between 2009 and 2011.

In a victim impact report the boy, who is now in specialised residential care in the UK, told the Central Criminal Court he wished he “could have taken (his mother) away from” from his father.

He said 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.

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.

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”.

John O'Kelly SC, defending, said the woman fell into a “perfect storm of abuse”. At 14 she considered suicide because of her own abuse but does not appear to have any ongoing serious psychological problems, according to a report.

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.”

By Conor Gallagher