A judge drastically reduced yesterday the number of charges against a Waterford father and mother accused of sexually abusing their son.
On week seven of the trial, the jury was told all but 22 of the 82 charges had been withdrawn. Defence counsel declined to call witnesses.
Prosecuting counsel Pauline Walley made her closing speech yesterday. Counsel for the two accused will close their case tomorrow. The father now faces nine counts of rape, nine counts of raping the boy with a poker, and one count of cruelty. The mother now faces two counts of sexual assault relating to allegations she had sex with the boy and one count of cruelty.
Both parents have pleaded not guilty to the allegations, alleged to have occurred between 2007 and 2011 in their Waterford home from when the child was six years old.
Mr Justice Eagar told the jury the withdrawal of the 60 counts, including 32 counts of sexual exploitation, was “as a result of legal issues that have arisen” and should not be taken as a judgment on their veracity.
Ms Walley, meanwhile, said jurors must judge the case on the evidence heard.
“When you look at the innocent looking photos of the family home with the slides and playhouse, we all want to believe that all was right in that house,” she said. “We want to reassure ourselves that the world is a safe place. None of us want to believe this kind of thing could happen to children.”
She acknowledged the child, now 12, was sometimes “inconsistent” during his testimony but asked the jury to consider if it was evidence of a child trying to “block out” what happened to him. She said he was recalling events “from when he was six or seven, half a lifetime ago for [the boy]. If this was some deliberate lie that was dreamt up, why go into all that detail?” she asked.
“Is that detail indicative of someone who’s telling the truth no matter how appalling that truth was?”
Referring to the delay of two years between the child being taken into care and him making allegations against his mother, she asked if this was due to “the repugnance of a child describing what cannot be described; the ultimate taboo?”
Counsel said that, after being removed from his family, the child stayed with two foster families before being put into specialised residential care in the UK because of his “terrifying” and “shocking” behaviour which included making sexual threats to his foster mother.
Ms Walley asked where this behaviour could have come from. She pointed to the child’s evidence of his father owning guns which he allegedly used to threaten the boy. “This might seem “fantastic” but other seemingly fantastic claims by the child were shown to be true, she said. such as his claim his father won the lottery or that his parents invited people around to watch pornographic films.
Ms Walley said the boy had been “expertly” cross-examined by the defence who “left no stone unturned”. She said if he was making up the allegations, this would surely have been shown.
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