Mother is described as ‘heartless tormentor’ after child cruelty case

Thomas Fitzpatrick arriving at Belfast court. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Thomas Fitzpatrick arriving at Belfast court. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

A “cold and callous” mother who got her son to join in as she had sex with a variety of men, including two of her own brothers, and also forced her daughters to watch, was jailed for almost six years on Friday.

Mr Justice Horner told the 58-year-old woman, who can’t be named to protect the identities of her now four adult children, her “chilly indifference to your children’s welfare generally and your complicity in the sexually deviant behaviour you inflicted, speaks of a heartless tormentor interested primarily in her own pleasures and enjoyment.

“However, I accept that you are not a predatory paedophile. Not only are you pathetic, weak willed and inept but you are also selfish and uncaring,” he also told the weeping Co Down woman.

But Mr Justice Horner later added that he was “still uncertain whether your motivation was sexual gratification or sexual arousal from the children’s humiliation or whether it was simply because of the need to control, or perhaps, you did what you did just because you could”.

She was one of six defendants, including her estranged husband, her two brothers, a former RUC Reservist and a baker, before Belfast Crown Court for sentence on a total of 49 charges between them, dating back from the summer of 1977 to the spring of 1988.

The woman, who pleaded guilty to 17 counts of cruelty involving all four children and six of gross indecency involving her son, and two of her daughters, was jailed for a total of five years and eight months.

Her 60-year-old estranged husband, who admitted 17 charges of cruelty by wilful neglect and assault, was jailed for four years. The judge told him he had left his children to the mercies of their mother, although he accepted he had “no idea that the children were being exposed to sexual acts by their mother and others”.

However, Mr Justice Horner said he had shown no genuine remorse, and although capable of acts of kindness, he had “administered a number of beatings... often savage beatings”, sometime provoked by such trivialities as one child stroking a puppy, another getting sauce on her dress, while her sister was beaten for refusing to eat something she did not like.

Turning to jail 53-year-old former RUC reservist Thomas Fitzpatrick for 18 months, the judge said he had admitted one count of indecent assault, one count of gross indecency during which the son was required to watch him having sex with his mum. He also admitted assaulting one of the children by punching her in the stomach.

The judge said an unremorseful Fitzpatrick, originally from Crewhill Gardens in Ardglass, was often drunk, blaming his intoxication “in part due to your role as a policeman and the stress you were under in carrying out your duties at a difficult time because of terrorists”, although “there may be some force in this”.

A remorseful 59-year-old baker, Patrick Kilmartin originally from Bryansford Gardens in Newcastle, was jailed for a year for sexually touching one of the children. The court had heard that when a drunken Kilmartin realised what he had done, such was his “shock and disgust” that he has not had a drink since.

Of the last two defendants, the children’s uncles, their mother’s brothers, one was jailed for two years and nine months, while the other was freed on a suspended sentence.

Mr Justice Horner told the first, aged 64, that he had not only sexually touched his nephew, but also that the boy was forced to watch as he had sex with his own sister, who also made her son touch her.

Turning to his 70-year-old brother, who admitted committing a sex act with his sister while his nephew watched, Mr Justice Horner said it was accepted that he was “at the bottom ladder of culpability” as compared with the others. He added the man now cut a “solitary and isolated figure” and in the circumstances, his six month sentence could be suspended for two years.