A MUNSTER FATHER and MOTHER who abused, exploited, and neglected their children have been sentenced to 15 and 9 years in prison, respectively.
Mr Justice Paul McDermott said the parents had engaged in “the most profound breach of trust a human being can conduct against their children” while sentencing them today at the Central Criminal Court.
Isolated from their adult relatives, they had no one to turn to and were sexually abused for an extended period of time by their three eldest siblings.
The judge sentenced the 57-year-old father to 15 years in prison for all 31 charges. Sexual assault, exploitation, intentional neglect and child maltreatment were among his crimes.
The 34-year-old mother got nine years. She was found guilty on all 25 charges, including sexual assault, exploitation, and child maltreatment.
The children’s 49-year-old uncle, their maternal aunt’s husband, got 15 years. He was found guilty of rape, sexual assault, and exploitation of the three eldest children.
His wife, the children’s 35-year-old maternal aunt, was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in the abuse.
The kids’ maternal uncle (27) got 15 years. He was found guilty of rape, sexual assault, and exploitation in regard to two of the minors.
The judge stated that the abuse had a huge impact on the children.
“Their pain has been immense. “Their struggles and stresses have been immense,” the judge added.
“I have no doubt that the ramifications of what was done to them and what was not done for them will have an impact on their lives in the future.”
A jury convicted the five family members guilty of all but one of the 78 charges against them last summer at Croke Park. They were all found guilty of sexually abusing the three eldest children between August 2014 and April 2016, and of deliberately ignoring five other children aged one to nine.
The father was also found guilty of medicating three of the kids. The father revealed to a social worker that he gave his prescription to some of the other kids to “knock them out” at night.
The parents, uncles, and aunt have been in custody since August. Their innocence was reiterated last week during their sentencing hearing.
The phrases elicited no reaction from the five family members.
The parents understood what they were doing was wrong, according to Mr Justice McDermott. Deficits and limits in both parents’ intellectual abilities were shown to the court, which reduced their moral culpability.
The judge said the parents’ intellectual deficiencies could not be separated from the “unsettling evidence” that they were concealing from social workers while allowing others to sexually abuse their children.
“They misled social workers and others about the abuse,” the judge added.
He noticed neither parent had expressed regret or remorse. There is no explanation for “why this sexually deviant behaviour occurred” because they continue to deny it.
They caused their children “extreme grief and suffering”, according to the judge. The youngsters were “continually abused and neglected in a brutal and inhumane manner”.
Foster parents did “a peculiar challenge in caring for children who were so broken and lacking in care and comprehension of the simplest level of behaviour in how to look after themselves,” said Mr Justice McDermott.
Those youngsters entered their lives in unexpected ways, requiring unexpected care, he said.
He thanked the garda and the head inspector for their professionalism.
Mr Justice McDermott retroactively sentenced the five last August. He ordered three years of post-release supervision and no direct or indirect contact with the children.
Tusla had been monitoring the family since 2011, but intervention increased in 2014. In 2016, the children were removed from the parental home and placed in various foster homes due to serious neglect.
A “concealed pregnancy” resulted in a sixth child after the children were put into care. In the end, the mother got no medical attention and the father didn’t realise she was pregnant. This infant was also removed.
To protect the children’s wellbeing and identities, reporting restrictions are severe.
The eldest three children began to make admissions about sexual abuse by their parents and other relatives after being placed in care, resulting to their arrests in 2018.
More than 30 witnesses testified, including the children, their foster parents, teachers, social workers, doctors, and garda.
The youngsters were described as being little and underweight for their age, with persistent teeth decay, dietary concerns, low weight, head lice and scabies, third-degree sunburn, and body markings and scars. They exhibited hyper-vigilance, over-compliance, and anxiety.
As stated in victim impact statements delivered in court by the inspector, the oldest boy, now a teenager, believes his old family should be imprisoned. “They shouldn’t be around kids,” he remarked.
A normal life was unknown to him until he met his new family. “I’m clean, joyful, never hungry, and not frightened of sleep.”
They made lengthy statements outlining the myriad problems they faced in trying to help the youngsters recover from their traumatic early childhoods. When the guilty verdicts came in, the three eldest children were thrilled and relieved, their foster parents stated.
They revealed how the kids arrived naked, covered in faeces, with scars and bruises, and no toileting abilities.
“Horrendous childhood” at the hands of those who should have been loving and caring for the eldest boy’s foster mother. The “beautiful, lovely boy” they are thrilled to call her son.
It was a large list of health specialists and therapists that the girl and second oldest boy’s foster mother listed. She detailed their first two years of insomnia and nightmares in which their parents came to harm them.
The foster mother of the two youngest boys described their behavioural and medical difficulties. Despite their young age, she described them as alert and vigilant.
Both parents’ defence attorneys indicated their clients had a moderate intellectual handicap and were functioning at a borderline level. Despite his innocence, the father has enjoyed “enormous satisfaction” from seeing his children happy, the defence argued.
The mother and sister will struggle in prison because there is no designated sexual offender section. The mother is locked in her room for her own protection, her lawyer claimed.