AN ‘INADEQUATE’ Leamington couple who failed to protect two of their children from sexual abuse by the youngsters’ older brother have escaped being jailed ‘by a hair’s breadth.’
The 47-year-old mother and 46-year-old father had both originally denied two charges of ill-treating the children by failing to protect them from abuse.
But they were saved from immediate prison terms after they changed their pleas to guilty at pre-trial hearings – saving the children from having to give evidence.
The couple, who cannot be named to protect the identities of the children, a boy and a girl, were sentenced to two years in prison suspended for two years, with two years’ supervision.
Both were also made subject to electronically-monitored overnight curfews for three months by Deputy Judge Richard Griffith-Jones, who told them: “You have come within a hair’s breadth of going to prison.”
Prosecutor John Evans said the girl was about six and her brother nine at the time they were abused by their older brother, who has since been jailed for possessing indecent images of other children.
Both told their parents of the abuse by their 17-year-old brother, but neither did anything to stop it.
When the mother was arrested over her failure to protect them, she claimed she had never had any inappropriate behaviour reported to her – and that when she had spoken to them following their brother’s arrest they denied he had done anything wrong.
And the father, who the court heard had a conviction for possessing indecent images, also claimed he knew nothing of any allegations of abuse.
Delroy Henry, for the mother, said she accepted she has failed both of her children.
He added: “She lacked the strength of character to do what needed to be done, made more difficult because it was another of her children.”
Nick Devine, for the father, said he was an “inadequate parent offering inadequate responses” to situations he did not know how to cope with.
Judge Griffith-Jones told the couple: “The sexual abuse of small children is immensely damaging – it shapes the way they look at the world, it shapes the way they look at themselves, and it’s something which lasts often all their lives.
“When there’s evidence that a small child is being abused sexually, any reasonable loving parent would step in and ensure that it’s stopped.
“You were totally inadequate, negligent parents. You showed a complete failure to grasp the potential damage to your small children, and wrongly protected the interests of your older child. Despite warning after warning, you failed to do anything.
“But it is important I make it clear that you are not to be sentenced on the basis that you were in any way involved in or colluding in this sexual abuse, it was your failure to protect the children which is at the heart of your criminality.”