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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 April 2007, 16:04 GMT 17:04 UK
'Sadistic' foster mother jailed
Eunice Spry
Eunice Spry was found guilty of 26 charges
A woman who punished three children in her care by ramming sticks down their throats and making them eat their own vomit has been jailed for 14 years.

Eunice Spry, 62, from Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire, was convicted at Bristol Crown Court last month, of 26 charges of abuse spanning 19 years.

The prosecution said Spry's behaviour was "horrifying" and "sadistic".

Spry had denied all the charges, which related to offences in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005.

Spry, who was the legal parent of the three children, was arrested when police raided her home in February 2005.

Frankly, it's difficult for anyone to understand how any human being could have contemplated what you did
Judge Simon Darwall-Smith

She was found guilty 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.

Judge Simon Darwall-Smith told Spry that this was the worst case he had come across in 40 years in law.

He told her: "Frankly, it's difficult for anyone to understand how any human being could have even contemplated what you did, let alone with the regularity and premeditation you employed."

The slight figure in the dock who had raised some of her children in Eckington, near Pershore, Worcestershire, looked on impassively as the judge sentenced her to 14 years.

He also ordered her to pay costs of 80,000, which he said would inevitably mean she would have to sell at least one of her two properties in Gloucestershire.

Youngsters concerned

Following Spry's conviction, Gloucestershire County Council apologised for the "shortcomings" in its care system.

Despite arousing suspicions and causing concern, she persistently kept one step ahead of the agencies who were supposed to be safeguarding the youngsters concerned.

Vital information which could have alerted social workers to the abuse was not shared by the various bodies involved.

The council implemented recommendations made after the case of Victoria Climbie, the eight-year-old girl tortured to death seven years ago. Children are now seen and spoken to alone and records are now held by all agencies, who share information with each other.

Safeguarding boards have also been created to ensure there is a single body responsible for children's welfare and protection.

Nigel Mitchell, mitigating, said that despite the brutality Spry had inflicted, there had been moments of happiness and love shown towards them.

He said: "In amongst the periods of unpleasantness and violence, there were also periods of happiness.

'No emotion'

"Your Honour will recall long canal trips on the barge, trips to Florida, the Florida Keys, Disney, matters of that sort interspersed with these other matters that we are all too familiar with."

Detective Inspector Steve Bean, who worked on the case, said: "Fourteen years reflects the gravity of the offences committed.

"It's very hard to assess Mrs Spry's character. She's shown no emotion throughout the trial, she's shown no remorse for the victims. Today again she showed no remorse.

"The sentence is going to give the victims a bit of closure. Hopefully they can now move on and try to get on with their lives."




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Policewoman on Eunice Spry and the case against her



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

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