Sunday, April 22, 2007

Female Abusers Escape Justice

This story speaks for itself:

Four women have been spared jail for goading two toddlers to fight and then laughing as they filmed them exchange blows.

The children's own mother, grandmother and two aunts, who can be named for the first time, repeatedly urged the two-year-old boy and his three-year-old sister to hit each other.

The terrified boy, wearing a nappy and T-shirt, was shown crying and trying to escape after being punched in the face.

But the women responded by taunting him, ordering him not to be a "wimp or a faggot" and to hit his sister back.

The shocking ordeal left both siblings in floods of tears as their pleas for mercy were ignored.

The footage, described later to police as "akin to a dog fight", came to light when the toddlers' father, a soldier, borrowed the camcorder. Horrified, he passed the film to social services and the four women were arrested.

Yesterday the children's 21-year- old mother Zara Care and grandmother Carole Olver, 49, were given 12-month prison sentences suspended for two years and ordered to do 100 hours community work.

Aunts Serenza Olver, 29, and Danielle Olver, 19, received the same sentence. All pleaded guilty to two charges of inciting the ill-treatment of children earlier this year.

The video begins with images of a family get-together in a house in Plymouth. As the two children run around one of the women asks them, "Do you want to play?" before pushing the boy towards the girl.

The children then start circling and slapping each other, goaded by the four women who can be seen and heard laughing.

The boy is floored by a blow from his sister and lies on the floor crying before clambering on to an armchair to try to escape.

But his attempt is immediately thwarted as he is told: "Get up. Don't be a wimp all your life."

He responds by staggering to his feet and punching his sister in the mouth.

As she falls to the ground he is encouraged to kick her by a female voice which orders: "And again, whilst she's down, boot her."

He tries to leave the room but an older child blocks his path and the girl once again runs over and punches his back with her fists.

The boy is told by a female voice: "Get up and punch her, you bloody faggot."

He protests: "No, I don't want to", but in desperation grabs a large hair brush and begins to beat his sister. The girl screams after she is hit in the mouth by the brush and lifts her arm in the air appealing for help from an unseen adult, but is turned away.

At this point in the film an older child in the room can be heard to say: "Is it our turn yet?"

During the video, which was shown at Plymouth Magistrates Court, the women hurl a stream of orders such as "jump on him", "kick her" and "hit his face".

The word "punch" is heard more than 20 times. The shocking film ends with the two toddlers screaming and crying.

In a police interview, the father said: "All the adults appear to find it funny watching two small children hurting each other. It can only be described as sick."

The children are now living with their paternal grandparents and will not be placed back in the custody of the mother.

Sentencing the four women at Plymouth Crown Court yesterday, Judge Francis Gilbert QC said Zara Care's main punishment was that she had permanently lost custody of the children.

He said: "You were cruel and callous and quite clearly causing the children to hurt each other for your own pleasure."

At a previous hearing the court heard that the grandmother even defended the video in a police interview .

She said: "I felt they were play fighting and character building. I couldn't see any harm in toughening them up. I done the same with my own children."

After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Barry Walter, of Devon and Cornwall Police, read a statement from the father's family.

It read: "Our family had no idea that these women were capable of acts of such wanton cruelty.

"As a family now we can move on and ensure the remainder of their childhood is happy and safe."

There was criticism of what some saw as a lenient sentence. Former child protection officer Dan Norris, Labour MP for Wansdyke, said the women should have been jailed.

He said: "This sentence doesn't recognise the gravity of the crime because their acts were so calculatingly cruel. They were clearly designed to humiliate and undermine the young people who should have been able to trust the adults rather than be betrayed by them."

Michele Elliott, director of children's charity Kidscape, said: "The kind of violence they were instilling in these toddlers was as if they were trying to train pit bulls to fight each other."

Michele Elliott of Kidscape said "This is what's driving people nuts about the legal system. "You've got somebody taking innocent dogs and making them fight - and society is quite rightly appalled and the judge puts them in jail for four months.

"But to do the same with two toddlers and then walk free shows the justice system needs to be stood on its head.

"If you took a poll, 99 per cent of people would say send those women to jail. Instead, the courts slap them on the wrist, turn them loose and send the message that this was not so serious.

"Then they put somebody else in jail who has done this to dogs - it's just absurd.

[The judge] ordered that the women, who have previously sheltered behind anonymity, should be named. The children and their dad cannot be named for legal reasons.

The two children have been living with the dad's parents since the arrests.

The print edition of the Guardian, April 21st 2007, stated "The judge was tempting to jail them...but he took into account the fact that two of the women...had children of their own to look after". The system just does not like to imprison mothers, even for child abuse. There is a perfectly simple solution. Give the father custody of the children, and put the woman in jail. Job done.

Our judges are perfectly happy to imprison fathers, though. If the men of the family had done this instead of the women, what do you think would have happened? No set of circumstances would keep a man who did this out of jail.

These institutional double-standards must be challenged. Write to the Attorney General's Office and demand a review of the case, on the grounds that the sentence was overly lenient.


Anonymous said...

Not only do the Judges believe women are above punishment, it seems that they consider children to be lower than dogs!

So women who commit child abuse by goading toddlers to fight each other get off scott-free, yet a man who does the same with DOGS gets 4 months in prison! It beggars belief.


sisyphus said...

Sorry to contradict you Heretic but the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is not the place to go if you think a sentence is too lenient; it's a potential remedy (of the last resort) for people convicted of crimes who have already appealed unsuccessfully against over-severe sentences or against wrongful convictions. Write to that beacon of independence the Attorney-General encouraging him to apply to the Court of Appeal if a sentence is considered to be too lenient (see my earlier comment re the Michael Barratt case which also featured that tool of the feminists MP Dan Norris).

Heretic said...

Sisyphus, I'm always happy to learn something. :-)

Anonymous said...

So, the judge kept them all out of prison partially on account of the fact that two of the 4 women have children of their own at home waiting to be tortured (Oops, I mean 'to be cared for' silly me!)

How many male child abusers do you think have been sparred prison because they have more children at home that they can abuse? I would bet none. Ever.

I bet those women's kids are in good hands with their mothers seeing as how the matriarch of the family admitted to the police that the child torture was generational on the female side in her family.

But in this world we live in today, I suppose it's all good since the women didn't make the kids have sex and film it. I mean forcing them into horrific fights though physical abuse and verbal torture is fine, as long as no kids were naked!