‘Seven-year-old tried to hang herself after prostitute mum let men sexually abuse her’


A young girl tried to kill herself due to the neglect of her prostitute mother who let men sexually assault the child, a court has heard.

The girl, who was seven at the time but is now an adult, told jurors how she tried to hang herself after suffering numerous beatings from her mother.

The alleged victim also told jurors how she and her siblings were left without anything to eat and resorted to eating cat food.

During a hearing at Plymouth Crown Court , the woman also claimed that her mother regularly locked her in her bedroom for ‘days at a time’.

The mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – is on trial after denying ten charges of child cruelty between 1976 and 1988 in a case the Crown said was “almost Victorian in its bleakness”.

The prosecution told the jury the mother worked as a prostitute from the family home in Plymouth, Devon, and she allowed a string of clients access to her three daughters.

The court heard that the girls – all of primary school age – were sexually assaulted by men visiting the house on an estate.

The middle daughter told jurors she was locked in a bedroom for days and would not know what day it was.

Plymouth Crown Court
Trial: The case is being heard at Plymouth Crown Court

They were given a bucket to use as a toilet but had no water to drink, the court heard.

She claimed that sometimes the siblings were so thirsty they were forced to drink their own urine.

The alleged victim said:”She would disappear for three to four days at a time and we did not know where she was.”

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She claimed that her mum often beat the children saying:”She would use bamboo, belts and brushes – whatever she could lay her hands on.”

Social workers put the three girls and their brother into childrens’ homes and on one occasion found them eating cat food ‘ because there no other food in the house’.

The court has heard that the woman’s clients and boyfriends touched the girls indecently and once a man raped one of the sisters on the bathroom floor.

The mum, now in her 70s, is in the dock alongside and a 60-year-old man called Raymond Williams who denies two indecent assaults on one of the sisters in 1981 and 1982.

The jury heard a second man, Ralph Burns, 57, had been due to stand trial for the bathroom rape but he died two weeks before the case started.

Prosecutor Sean Brunton said:”This is a very sorry tale is child cruelty and sexual abuse which in some ways is almost Victorian in its bleakness.

“We say she was working as a prostitute, from time to time at any rate. She was an inadequate woman who was either unwilling or incapable of looking after them properly.

“She exposed them to dangerous men. They had complete and unfettered access.”

Mr Brunton said that three other men identified by the police after interviewing the complainants had also since died.

The police had launched an inquiry when the younger sister walked into a police station early last year.

The oldest daughter told the court: “Quite a few times when punters were in the house we were locked in the bedroom.

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“We had to pee in a bucket. We were in there so long that sometimes we had to drink our own pee.”

The trial continues.

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