The foster mother of a boy who has accused his father of sexual abuse has told a jury that when the child arrived at her home as a six-year-old he was emaciated, not toilet trained and unable to recognise common foods.
The woman gave evidence at the Central Criminal Court that the boy would relieve himself around the house as he appeared to be afraid to go the bathroom and it took two years before he used the toilet properly.
The 73-year-old accused man has pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting his son from the age of three to six and sexually assaulting and raping two daughters between the ages of four and eleven at various locations between 1995 and 2002.
The woman told Ms Isobel Kennedy SC, prosecuting, that the boy had come to stay with her in February 2000.
"He was very, very, very undernourished, his hair was very bad, just wisps’ of hair and his skin was almost transparent," she said.
She said the boy could not eat solid food and did not know how to use a spoon or a fork. She said he did not know what most foods were, that he did not recognise potatoes but did know chips.
She said he did not wash and would not use the bathroom. She said he would go to the toilet "anywhere and everywhere" such as in bed, in his bedroom, upstairs, downstairs, behind curtains or the sofa or in the back garden.
“It was like he was terrified of going to the bathroom,” she said.
She said due to these difficulties and to save him embarrassment he wore “pull ups” to contain any excrement.
The woman told Mr O’Carroll that she did not take any photographs of the boy when he arrived saying it would not have been appropriate. She said he was not toilet trained and “looked terrible, very emaciated”.
She said he was wearing a girl’s leggings and smock when he arrived.
She told Mr O’Carroll that the boy was not wearing nappies when he arrived at her house but began wearing the “pull ups” after about six or seven weeks because he was defecating and wetting himself. She said he was relieved because it was saving him embarrassment.
She told Mr O’Carroll the boy went to the toilet everywhere, such as in the corner of a room or in drawers and would then cover it with clean clothes. She said she did report this to social workers and also got medical advice.
She said the situation was difficult because as a foster parent she had to be careful about the boy’s privacy.
The woman said it took two years before the boy was using the toilet properly.
She agreed with Mr O’Carroll that she was sure the boy had disclosed abuse by his father to her on “10 to 40 occasions”.
Mr O’Carroll put it to her that the boy had given evidence that he had never told her.
She replied: “I don‘t know what he said. I am not speaking for anyone, only myself.”
She said the boy’s birth family had made a number of allegations about her and her partner’s care of the boy. She said “for years we put up with abuse” from the family.
Mr O’Carroll asked her if there was “tension” between the families. She replied: “Not from our side, we did not know them. There was lots of allegations and tension coming from them.”
She denied a suggestion by Mr O’Carroll that she had a vested interest in the boy making disclosures of sexual abuse because she had a fixed view that he had been “physical, sexually and emotionally abused” in his family home.
The woman denied that she had “put pressure” on the child to say he had been abused.
She rejected a suggestion that there was “tension” between them, the boy’s foster family, and his birth family and that he was “a football being used in the war going on”.
“There was no war going on. I was a normal down-to-earth person and I would not use a child for anything,” she said.
The trial continues before Mr Justice George Birmingham and a jury of eight men and four women.