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Sadistic foster mother's 19-year reign of terror

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Last updated at 09:43am on 21st March 2007 A foster mother was found guilty today of subjecting three young children to a "horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment".

Eunice Spry, 62, routinely beat, abused and starved the youngsters in her care over a 19 year period. The devout Jehovah's Witness forced sticks down their throats and made them eat their own vomit and rat excrement.

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Eunice Spry

Eunice Spry regularly beat and starved children in her care

As punishment for misbehaving, she would beat them on the soles of their feet and force them to drink washing up liquid and bleach.

Spry, a pillar of her local community in Gloucestershire, staunchly denied all the claims made against her and insisted the only physical punishment she ever used was "a smack on the bottom".

But a jury at Bristol Crown Court convicted of a series of charges.

During the four-week trial the jury heard some harrowing evidence detailing how Spry had subjected the children to a regime of abuse.

The three victims, known as Victim A, B and C, all gave evidence describing how their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence at the hands of their foster mother.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, told how Victim A, now aged 21, was imprisoned in a wheelchair by the woman following a car crash.

The child's hand has been rubbed raw with sandpaper

Spry had tried to stop Victim A from trying to walk again following the crash so she could get more compensation money.

Victim B, also 21, told how her foster mother would pull her hair and shove her face in her pet dog's faeces as punishment.

Victim C, now 18, described how his foster mother held his hand down on a hot electric hob until it was left looking like a "gooey mess".

He said he had been force-fed so much washing up liquid by Spry that he could now differentiate between the brands on taste alone.

The offences took place in two of Spry's homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005. Mr Barker, had told the jury: "On hearing the indictment the word that probably sticks in your mind is cruelty.

"That is what this case is about. It is a history of cruelty by Eunice Spry who was an adoptive mother over a long period of time."

Eunice Spry

Face injuries of Victim A

The abuse was finally discovered after another Jehovah's Witness secretly confronted the wheelchair-bound Victim A about marks to her head caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face.

Victim A finally plucked up the courage to report her foster mother to the police who quickly interviewed Victim B and C.

Mr Barker added: "The outcome of the interviews was a horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment.

"Most of the acts were carried out as punishment; others were inexplicable acts of cruelty."

He said the children would be regularly punished for minor acts of misbehaviour.

Mr Barker explained: "They were made to eat lard and drink washing up liquid poured down their throats.

Eunice Spry

They called it home: Spry's foster children lived in squalor, with little in the way of comforts

"If they were sick (she) would make them eat the vomit and they were made to eat rat excrement."

He said that Spry would regularly beat the children on the soles of the feet with a "variety of sticks".

They would be "punched kicked and strangled", and if they cried the sticks would be forced down their throats.

Mr Barker said Spry used unusual punishments such as making the children lean against the side of a wall.

Eunice Spry

The bedrooms in which Eunice Spry's foster children slept were strewn with rubbish

If they moved, the soles of their feet would again be beaten with the sticks.

Full cans of food would be thrown directly in their faces and they would have their heads forcibly held under the water while in the bath.

Victim A told how when she was a young girl her foster mother had fixed a sign to the back of one her dress to cause embarrassment in public. The message read: "This child is evil. Do not look at her or talk to her. She wets the bed and is an attention seeker."

Victim A was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2000. Doctors told the girl, who suffered horrific injuries, that she would be confined to a wheelchair for up to six months after the crash.

But medical experts who examined her soon found there was no physical reason why she could not walk.

Spry refused a series of tests to find out what was behind the girl's mysterious condition and deliberately hindered her recuperation in a cynical bid to maximise the compensation payout she could get from insurers.

In 2004, Child A fled from her foster mother and walked on the very same day. She later confessed that Spry had forced her to remain in the wheelchair since 2000.

Mr Barker said on one occasion Spry had forced Child C to place his hand over an electric ring on a cooker causing blistering.

He added that Spry was able to conceal her alleged reign of abuse as the children were home taught and not sent to school.

She has also terrified the children so much with her ritualistic abuse that they were too frightened to alert the authorities.

Spry covered her tracks by forbidding them to be examined on their own by doctors or dentists. She maintained her innocence throughout police interviews and during the subsequent trial.

Foster mother guilty of 'sadistic' abuse

By Richard Savill

Last Updated: 7:51pm GMT 20/03/2007

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/03/20/nfoster120.xml

A foster mother was yesterday convicted of subjecting three children in her care to a catalogue of “horrifying” and “sadistic” physical and mental abuse spanning 20 years.

 

Eunice Spry: Foster mother convicted of 'cruel and sadisitic treatment'

Spry routinely abused children

Eunice Spry, 62, a Jehovah’s Witness, beat the children with sticks and metal bars, forced them to drink bleach, eat their own vomit and rat excrement, Bristol Crown Court heard.

"Most of the acts were carried out as punishment; others were inexplicable acts of cruelty,” said Kerry Barker, prosecuting.

Spry was able to conceal her abuse as the children were home taught and not sent to school. She also terrified the children so much with her abuse that they were too frightened to alert the authorities.

Spry covered her tracks by forbidding them to be examined on their own by doctors or dentists, the court heard.

The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board said Spry “was someone who other parents trusted with their children. She deliberately set out to deceive those parents and all of the agencies involved over a 20-year period.”

During her evidence, Spry denied beating the children but added “as a last resort I would smack a child’s bottom”.

She was convicted of 26 charges including child cruelty, unlawful wounding, actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith adjourned sentence until next month.

During the four-week trial, which could not be reported until the verdicts due to legal restrictions, the jury heard a harrowing account of how Spry had subjected the children to a regime of abuse.

The three victims, known as Victim A, B and C, said their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence at the hands of their foster mother.

The prosecutor said Victim A, now aged 21, was imprisoned in a wheelchair by the woman following a car crash. Spry had tried to stop Victim A from trying to walk again following the crash so she could get more compensation money, Mr Barker added.

Victim B, also 21, said her foster mother believed the three children were possessed by the devil. She said: “We had no friends. We were told not to speak to anyone.”

Victim C, now 18, said his foster mother held his hand down on a hot electric hob until it was left looking like a “gooey mess”. He said he had been force-fed so much washing up liquid by Spry that he could now differentiate between the brands on taste alone.

Victim C told the court: “One summer, when I was seven or eight we were starved over the course of a month.

"We were kept locked in a room with no clothes on and had very little to eat.”

The offences took place in two of Spry’s homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005. The abuse was finally discovered after another Jehovah’s Witness secretly confronted the wheelchair-bound Victim A about marks to her head caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face.

Victim A plucked up the courage to report her foster mother to the police who interviewed Victims B and C.

Mr Barker added: “The outcome of the interviews was a horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment.”

He said Spry would regularly beat the children on the soles of the feet with a “variety of sticks”. They would be “punched kicked and strangled”, and if they cried the sticks would be forced down their throats.

Mr Barker said Spry used unusual punishments such as making the children lean against the side of a wall. If they moved, the soles of their feet would again be beaten with the sticks. Full cans of food would be thrown directly in their faces and they would have their heads forcibly held under the water while in the bath.

Victim A was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2000. Doctors told the girl, who suffered horrific injuries, that she would be confined to a wheelchair for up to six months after the crash. But medical specialists who examined her soon found there was no physical reason why she could not walk. Spry refused a series of tests to find out what was behind the girl’s mysterious condition and deliberately hindered her recuperation in a cynical bid to maximise the compensation payout she could get from insurers, the court heard.

In 2004, Child A fled from her foster mother and walked on the very same day. She later confessed that Spry had forced her to remain in the wheelchair since 2000.

The Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board said: “Although these children were seen by many different professionals, few were a consistent presence.

"Information was not shared so that it was impossible for anyone to have a clear picture. As a result of the Victoria Climbie enquiry, one of the significant safeguards now in place is the requirement for agencies to work far more closely together and for information to be shared.

"This case underlines the responsibility we all have to remain alert to people who deliberately deceive others about their real motive for working with children. Safeguarding children is everyone’s business.”

 

Two decades of abuse went unseen

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/gloucestershire/6449027.stm

 

The foster children of Eunice Spry face a lifetime of counseling, after suffering years of physical, mental and sexual abuse at her hands.

Eunice Spry

Spry denied all the charges and said she loved the children

The abuse was not spotted by health professionals over a period of 20 years.

At her trial the court was told that Spry, 62, was always present at doctors' visits and perhaps more crucially, educated the children at home so no one would see their injuries.

She portrayed herself as a loving and caring mother and was described as a devout Jehovah's Witness.

When one of the victims finally spoke out about their experiences to a member of their church, the authorities were alerted and Spry was arrested.

Police videos shown in court revealed the squalor the children were brought up in.

But it was the discovery of sticks that backed up the claims of abuse by her adopted children.

Starved and beaten

They had been pushed down their throats as a form of punishment.

Doctors found scarring to their throats that would prove their claims.

One of the children, described in court as Victim A, was seen at church with a note pinned to her back saying: "This child is evil. She wets the bed and is an attention seeker."

Victim A had her face rubbed with sandpaper

I lived in fear of violence and cruelty at her hand, something I accepted as being part of life

Victim A

Two other children were starved and locked in a room naked.

Others were made to eat their own vomit for apparently being greedy.

They were hit and also beaten on the soles of their feet.

A picture of Victim A showed what looked like a rash was the result of Eunice Spry rubbing her skin with sandpaper.

When Victim A was injured in a car crash she should have been walking within six months but Spry kept her in a wheelchair to claim more compensation.

In a statement, Victim A said: "I lived in fear of violence and cruelty at her hand, something I accepted as being part of life."

'Chilling' reaction

The abuse of Victim C, who Spry described in court as a "difficult child", included having his genitals cut with a craft knife.

"My foster mother never showed me any love or encouragement, only negativity or abuse," he said.

"She locked me in a bedroom once with my sister for about a month. I can't even remember what I had supposedly done wrong."

Eunice Spry denied all the charges and said she had loved the children.

Piles of games and toys in the house suggested she did care for them.

In her defence she claimed the children had made up the allegations, getting the ideas from a book about child abuse.

Police still of one of the sticks which were rammed down the children's throats

Sticks were rammed down the children's throats as punishment

Police described Spry as intelligent and clever who had showed no emotion when she was questioned.

Det Con Victoria Martell said: "Most mothers who'd been accused of such things would have shown something .

"She didn't and it was quite chilling."

The case relied heavily on evidence supplied by forensic scientists.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting barrister, said: "Had it not been for the commitment of the Crown Prosecution Service in allowing the money to be spent on those skills, the victims' allegations would not have been supported."

The chairman of the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board, Jo Grills, said lessons would be learned from the case.

"Although these children were seen by many different professionals, few were a consistent presence.

"Information was not shared so that it was impossible for anyone to have a clear picture.

"As a result of the Victoria Climbie inquiry, one of the significant safeguards now in place is the requirement for agencies to work far more closely together and for information to be shared."


Sadistic foster mother guilty of 'horrific cruelty'

http://www.24dash.com/communities/18176.htm

'Sadistic' foster mother Eunice Spry (Pic: PA)
'Sadistic' foster mother
Eunice Spry (Pic: PA)

A foster mother was found guilty today of subjecting three young children to a "horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment".

Eunice Spry, 62, routinely beat, abused and starved the youngsters in her care over a 19 year period.

The devout Jehovah's Witness forced sticks down their throats and made them eat their own vomit and rat excrement.

As punishment for misbehaving, she would beat them on the soles of their feet and force them to drink washing up liquid and bleach.

Spry, a pillar of her local community in Gloucestershire, staunchly denied all the claims made against her and insisted the only physical punishment she ever used was "a smack on the bottom".

But a jury at Bristol Crown Court convicted of a series of charges.

Restrictions on reporting the trial were lifted after the guilty verdicts were returned.

Spry was found guilty of 26 charges in total. They ranged from unlawful wounding, cruelty to a person under 16, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.

Spry, wearing a light blue trouser suit, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were returned.

During the four-week trial the jury heard some harrowing evidence detailing how Spry had subjected the children to a regime of abuse.

The three victims, known as Victim A, B and C, all gave evidence describing how their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence at the hands of their foster mother.

Kerry Barker, prosecuting, told how Victim A, now aged 21, was imprisoned in a wheelchair by the woman following a car crash.

Spry had tried to stop Victim A from trying to walk again following the crash so she could get more compensation money.

Victim B, also 21, told how her foster mother would pull her hair and shove her face in her pet dog's faeces as punishment.

Victim C, now 18, described how his foster mother held his hand down on a hot electric hob until it was left looking like a "gooey mess".

He said he had been force-fed so much washing up liquid by Spry that he could now differentiate between the brands on taste alone.

The offences took place in two of Spry's homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005.

Mr Barker, had told the jury: "On hearing the indictment the word that probably sticks in your mind is cruelty.

"That is what this case is about. It is a history of cruelty by Eunice Spry who was an adoptive mother over a long period of time."

The abuse was finally discovered after another Jehovah's Witness secretly confronted the wheelchair-bound Victim A about marks to her head caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face.

Victim A finally plucked up the courage to report her foster mother to the police who quickly interviewed Victim B and C.

Mr Barker added: "The outcome of the interviews was a horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment.

"Most of the acts were carried out as punishment; others were inexplicable acts of cruelty."

He said the children would be regularly punished for minor acts of misbehaviour.

Mr Barker explained: "They were made to eat lard and drink washing up liquid poured down their throats.

"If they were sick (she) would make them eat the vomit and they were made to eat rat excrement."

He said that Spry would regularly beat the children on the soles of the feet with a "variety of sticks".

They would be "punched kicked and strangled", and if they cried the sticks would be forced down their throats.

Mr Barker said Spry used unusual punishments such as making the children lean against the side of a wall.

If they moved, the soles of their feet would again be beaten with the sticks.

Full cans of food would be thrown directly in their faces and they would have their heads forcibly held under the water while in the bath.

Victim A told how when she was a young girl her foster mother had fixed a sign to the back of one her dress to cause embarrassment in public.

The message read: "This child is evil. Do not look at her or talk to her. She wets the bed and is an attention seeker."

Victim A was involved in a serious traffic accident in 2000. Doctors told the girl, who suffered horrific injuries, that she would be confined to a wheelchair for up to six months after the crash.

But medical experts who examined her soon found there was no physical reason why she could not walk.

Spry refused a series of tests to find out what was behind the girl's mysterious condition and deliberately hindered her recuperation in a cynical bid to maximise the compensation payout she could get from insurers.

In 2004, Child A fled from her foster mother and walked on the very same day.

She later confessed that Spry had forced her to remain in the wheelchair since 2000.

Mr Barker said on one occasion Spry had forced Child C to place his hand over an electric ring on a cooker causing blistering.

He added that Spry was able to conceal her alleged reign of abuse as the children were home taught and not sent to school.

She has also terrified the children so much with her ritualistic abuse that they were too frightened to alert the authorities.

Spry covered her tracks by forbidding them to be examined on their own by doctors or dentists.

She maintained her innocence throughout police interviews and during the subsequent trial.

Adrian Foster, chief Crown prosecutor for Gloucestershire, said: "This was one of the most serious cases of child abuse that we have had to deal with.

"The Crown Prosecution Service was able to provide advice on the case from a very early stage in the investigation process including the need for complex medical and psychological reports, before deciding on what charges were to be put to Mrs Spry.

"Through effective joint working with the police we were able to establish a strong case against her which graphically illustrated the abuse of her children over a wide period of time.

"We were also able to establish the confidence of the victims in the prosecution process, through early meetings with the reviewing lawyer and counsel, to allow them to give good evidence to the court of their experiences.

"The quality of that evidence is reflected in the findings of the jury today."

Mary Harley, the reviewing prosecutor, added: "It is an excellent example of the benefits in adopting a prosecution team approach at the very early stages of the investigation when victim A first made her complaint in December 2004.

"Continuity of the members of the team throughout the prosecution ensured the best evidence both from lay witnesses and many professional experts who were presented before the court at the trial."

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith adjourned the case for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Spry was remanded in custody until the sentencing hearing at Bristol Crown Court at a date to be fixed.

Copyright Press Association 2007.

 

 

Children thought ritual beatings and humiliation 'was normal'

http://www.24dash.com/communities/18177.htm

Victim A <br/> Pic: PA/Gloucestershire Police
Victim A
Pic:
PA/Gloucestershire Police

One of the children who suffered horrific abuse at the hands of his foster mother finally realised he was being mistreated after reading the best-selling book A Child Called 'It'.

The 18-year-old and two girls under the woman's care had until then regarded the sadistic punishments meted out to them by Eunice Spry as normal and even routine.

But Dave Pelzer's harrowing memoir made him think for the first time that other children were not beaten, starved and humiliated like they had been.

Their experiences shared a striking and disturbing similarity to Pelzer's traumatic upbringing.

His book tells the story of how he suffered terrible physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his alcoholic mother.

Pelzer was repeatedly beaten, starved and degraded by her and eventually forced to live in the basement when he was just eight years old after being ostracised by the family.

And just like the siblings who bravely gave evidence against Spry at Bristol Crown Court, Pelzer was also forced to eat his own vomit, dog faeces and swallow soap.

The dehumanising of Pelzer, who was one of five brothers, continued until his mother simply referred to her son as "It".

Pelzer was finally rescued at the age of 12 by teachers at his Californian school in 1973 and taken into foster care.

The haunting story became an unlikely hit and sold more than four million copies worldwide.

During the trial, each of the children who gave evidence against Spry were asked if they had read the book and the teenager - known as Victim C - - admitted he had.

"She really didn't like me reading books like that," he told the jury.

"I was reading it without her blessing. I had taken it from her room."

The defence implied the allegations bore such a close resemblance to those described by Pelzer that he had simply used the book to create a "fantasy land" of cruelty claims against his strict mother.

This was strongly denied.

Ironically it was Spry herself who had bought the book. She later told the jury: "I never thought it would be something that would interest them."

Pelzer's graphic survival story opened the Gloucestershire teenager's eyes and helped him end his own gruesome nightmare.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/gloucestershire/6469849.stm

Caregiver guilty of abusing children

Eunice Spry

Eunice Spry was found guilty of 26 charges

A woman who punished three young children in her care by ramming sticks down their throats has been convicted of abuse spanning 20 years.

Eunice Spry, 62, from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, was convicted of 26 charges and cleared of 12 charges.

The prosecution said Spry's treatment was "horrifying" and "sadistic".

Detective Constable Victoria Martell said: "When the defendant was arrested, she was completely calm...her lack of emotion was very chilling."

The offences took place in two of Spry's homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005.

Ms Martell said she was left almost in "disbelief" after first taking a call from Victim A, in December 2004.

I sweated blood for these children. I've worked non-stop. I love them. I still love them

Eunice Spry

She added: "When I first heard the allegations being made, my reaction was almost one of disbelief, but having worked in CID for a number of years I had obviously heard other terrible stories.

"However, as I spoke to the other victims, and they also told me of their experiences, it really hit home how terrible their lives had been.

"It was very harrowing to hear the three of them explain their experiences, but to them, they had not known any other life than the abuse they had grown up with."

Spry was arrested when police raided her home in February 2005.

The three were later examined by doctors and specialists after they made their allegations.

They found a series of marks and unusual bruises on their bodies and throats which were entirely consistent with their harrowing stories.

They were also found to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and low self-esteem, and the girls had both attempted to take their own lives.

Punishments would be anything from being forced to stay awake all night and constantly being beaten with sticks and poles all over my body

Victim

Spry was found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of a range of charges from unlawful wounding, cruelty to a person under 16, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.

During the four-week trial the jury heard how Spry - who was the legal parent of the three children - had subjected the children to a regime of abuse.

The jury heard that the children were forced to drink bleach and eat their own vomit.

Constant punishment

One of the foster children told a news conference: "She'd always punish me for the slightest thing. These punishments would be anything from being forced to stay awake all night and constantly being beaten with sticks and poles all over my body.

"It was agonising but we had to get used to it. I was deprived of mixing with other children my age. My foster mother never showed me any love or encouragement, only negativity or abuse.

"She locked me up in the bedroom once with my sister for about a month. I can't even remember what I had supposedly done wrong."

Another of Spry's victims now aged 21, was imprisoned in a wheelchair by the woman following a car crash.

Refused tests

Doctors told the girl, who suffered horrific injuries, that she would be confined to a wheelchair for up to six months after the crash.

But medical experts who examined her soon found there was no physical reason why she could not walk.

Spry refused a series of tests to find out what was behind the girl's condition and deliberately hindered her recuperation to maximise the compensation payout she could get from the insurer.

In a statement Jo Grills, chair of Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Board (GSCB), said: "Eunice Spry is someone who other parents trusted with their children. She deliberately set out to deceive those parents and all of the agencies involved over a 20-year period.

Shared information

"Although these children were seen by many different professionals, few were a consistent presence. Information was not shared so that it was impossible for anyone to have a clear picture.

"As a result of the Victoria Climbie enquiry, one of the significant safeguards now in place is the requirement for agencies to work far more closely together and for information to be shared."

Spry, who denied all the charges, told the court: "I sweated blood for these children. I've worked non-stop. I love them. I still love them.

"Anyone who met these three children would say they've grown up to be fine respectable adults. That's what I aimed to do and that's what I think I did to them."

Bristol Crown Court heard how Spry covered her tracks by forbidding them to be examined on their own by doctors or dentists.

She maintained her innocence throughout police interviews and during the subsequent trial.

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith adjourned the case to allow pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Spry was remanded in custody until the sentencing hearing at Bristol Crown Court at a date to be fixed.

 


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