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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 19:09 GMT
Carer 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.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Eunice Spry's former foster children describe the abuse



SEE ALSO
Two decades of abuse went unseen
20 Mar 07 |  Gloucestershire
Timeline: Carer abuses children
20 Mar 07 |  Gloucestershire

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