The eldest victim, now 19, said she was 10 when she was left to care for her six-week-old sister. She said the baby slept beside her in a single bed, and when she was unable to stop the infant crying during the night, the accused hit her in the face. The foster parents of some of the children said they were not toilet-trained or able to shower or use a toothbrush.
The 54-year-old man pleaded guilty to eight counts of child cruelty against six children between 2001 and 2010. He is the father of the five younger children.
His former partner and mother of all of the children has already received a four-year suspended sentence for the same charges. “In effect the children were rearing themselves without any parental guidance” noted Judge Mary Ellen Ring. She placed the offences at the upper end of the mid range, taking into account the period of the offending and number of children effected. The maximum sentence is seven years.
Patrick McGrath, defending, said the accused and his ex-partner had chosen alcohol over their children. The accused is now in a new relationship and has been sober since last year. Judge Mary Ellen Ring suspended the final year of the sentence.