A PEMBROKESHIRE mother who physically, psychologically and emotionally abused her own children stretching back over a decade has been jailed.
The mother – who cannot be named to protect the identity and privacy of the children – faced 15 child cruelty charges at Swansea Crown Court.
“There has been a clear pattern of abuse and cruelty,” said prosecutor Dean Pulling. “Physical assaults, emotional abuse, and ill-treatment.”
The court heard the children involved are between the ages of five and 14 years old.
On June 13 last year, the children visited the father of the youngest children. He noticed a red mark around the eye of one of the children, and after some reluctance, she told him the defendant had pushed her in the shower causing her to hit it on the shower tray.
He also found bruises on another of the children’s arms.
The father took photographs of the injuries, and asked if one of the older children could record their mother on their phone when she abused them.
A teaching assistant noticed the red mark on the child’s eye in school that week. The child didn’t say anything initially when called to see the headteacher, but then admitted their mother had caused it. This was confirmed by her sibling.
The school reported the injury, but the defendant's explanation was accepted. The headteacher disagreed with this, and submitted a multi-agency report.
One of the older children recorded the abuse they were all subjected to when they returned home, as their mother was now aware they had spoken to their headteacher about it.
On the recordings, she could be heard saying “I didn’t push her in the f****** shower and even if I did it’s nothing to do with the teacher.”
She also said: “I don’t give a s*** what happens in this house. If I f****** push you or hit you, you don’t tell your f****** teacher”, and “Go tell your teacher. See what happens. Cos no f***** sees nothing in this house”.
She was recorded hitting one of the children and screaming at and hitting another of the children.
“This ultimately must have been terrifying for the children,” said Mr Pulling.
“This happened on a regular basis.”
Upon hearing the recordings, the children’s father described “feeling physically sick”.
He showed them to the school, and, after the police were called, to officers.
The police arrested the defendant at her home on suspicion of child cruelty.
“The property was described as very dirty throughout,” said Mr Pulling. “The carpets and sofa were heavily soiled.”
The court heard a door had holes punched through it, and the children’s rooms were “cramped and cluttered” and smelled.
There were also soiled puppy pads throughout the house, smelling of urine, they added.
When asked about the recordings in interview, the defendant said it “had been a bad day” and she “flipped” and “saw red”.
She accused the children of lying, and the father of coercing them in to making accusations.
She admitted it was her in the recordings, but said she “didn’t hit them very hard”.
“It’s not to hurt them, it’s to shock them,” she added.
Mr Pulling said social services and the police had been involved with the defendant throughout her children’s lives - since at least 2010.
“The pattern has been the defendant engaged for a period of time until agencies felt they were no longer needed, and then reverted back,” he said.
“It was engrained in them by the defendant not to tell anyone.
“They didn’t want to be separated, as the defendant had told them if they said anything they would be separated.”
The children said the defendant “tells us to lie” to teachers, social services, and the police about their injuries.
A paediatrician who examined the children said the number of injuries they had “seemed excessive” and were “consistent with abusive injuries”.
The court heard that some of the children had a developmental delay, teeth cavities, and headlice.
The older children would have to look after the younger children, Mr Pulling said, including taking them to school, shopping and cooking.
The defendant's oldest child decided not to be a complainant in this case, but offered a statement in support of their siblings.
“Her behaviour was worse when she was drunk, but when sober wasn’t much better,” they said.
Mr Pulling said the local authority had “no plans” to return the children to their mother.
The defendant has one previous conviction for two offences.
Stuart John, in mitigation, said: “The great shame is social services did not have a heavier involvement in this case. These children should have been taken away from her many years ago.”
He said the defendant could have been rehabilitated sooner had this happened.
“She is deeply sorry for all that she has done to these children,” he continued.
“She has taken steps to address her addiction to alcohol.
“She now knows, looking back with a clear head, that it was an appalling environment to be brought up in.
“She knows it was shameful.”
Judge Catherine Richards described the recordings as “distressing and frightening for an adult to hear”.
“The impact on your children must have been far worse,” she added.
The defendant was jailed for four years, running concurrently, for each of the first 12 charges. She also received concurrent sentences of 14 months, eight months, and eight months for the remaining charges – which dealt with specific incidents.