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Grim Fairytale Real-life Cinderella feared she would not live to see evil stepmother face court

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Cora Desmond

Cora Desmond

Daragh McSweeney/Cork Courts

Cora Desmond

REAL-LIFE Cinderella Cora Desmond, who was abused by her stepmum Bridget Kenneally from age six, has revealed she contemplated suicide to escape her tormentor.

Cora says she was beaten on a daily basis, often with belts, pokers and kitchen utensils when she failed to scrub the house before school.

She described how her evil stepmother was so enraged on one occasion that she broke her thumb over a poorly-cleaned floor.

Cora described how she was also forced to eat food laced with vinegar, chili and mustard but was also mocked by her father’s partner as being like Cinderella.

Kenneally was jailed for two years yesterday on a charge of assault causing harm to Cora Desmond, who was then aged ten, in October 2009 at 7 Kenny’s Lane, Youghal.

And in her first interview since her evil stepmother’s sentencing, Cora admitted that she is just relieved to be alive today.

“I’m in a great place now, despite everything that has happened,” she told The Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's RedFM.

“I have worked hard over the past four years with councilors and doctors and friends.

“I am somewhat happy and enjoying life.

“As a 21-year old, there are stresses and responsibilities that go with life but I honestly didn't picture myself making it this far.

“My biggest fear was that I wouldn't be believed but I realised after the trial that she was the one who wasn’t believed.

“There are good people out there who will help you.

“I have nightmares, flashbacks. It is going to affect me for the rest of my life. I have accepted that but I won't let it define me.”

Cora now wants to move on with her life but says she will not accept or believe her stepmother's in-court apology.

And she says she is still in shock that a custodial sentence was handed down by the judge.

“It might sound cruel and selfish not to accept this apology, but I know her and her mind games,” she said.

“She is only apologising now because it has gotten as severe as what it as.

“She is up in court facing these charges. It was an apology just for show in my opinion.

“To be honest it doesn’t make a difference.

“It was a complete and utter shock (the sentence).

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“We had waited so long we though she would walk away with a slap on the wrist.

“We never thought she would end up locked up and away and not able to cause harm to another child. I wasn’t expecting it at all. I still can’t believe it.”

The investigation commenced over four years ago when a 16-year-old Cora Desmond made a complaint of assault by Bridget Kenneally who was in a relationship with Cora’s father.

Over a ten-year period, the victim was subjected to any number of tortures both mental and physical.

At one point she was taken to Mercy University Hospital with over 50 bruises to her body and she was also subjected to daily beatings.

At the time Cora believed that her father remained oblivious to her torment but admits that for a time after she made the complaint her relationship with her dad suffered.

“My mom started me on the journey to justice,” she said.

“She was absolutely distraught.

“It was so hard to believe as a mother that this could happen and then knowing that your child has gone through this at the hands of someone who has her own children.

“I don’t know how he (my dad) reacted when he heard the truth because the night that call came, I thought she was going to kill me.

“I thought tonight is the night if I don’t run.

“So, I grabbed a few things and ran to my mum's and didn’t see or speak to my dad for a couple of weeks.

“I didn’t know how he reacted.

“We talk about it and he still to this day he feels so guilty that he didn’t notice and couldn't help me.

“At the end of the day it is not his fault.

“He didn’t make the decision to abuse the child and torture and brainwash someone.

“He was doing the best he could as a father.

“If it hadn't been for my family and friends telling me that I would get justice, I would have given up.

“I would have thrown in the towel and I wouldn't be here today.”

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