Jury considers verdict as woman accused of cruelty to eight of her children

The jury in the trial of a woman accused of neglect and cruelty to eight of her children has retired to consider a verdict.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identities of children, is facing over 40 charges at various addresses in the west between 2006 and 2011.

During this trial, one of the woman’s sons gave evidence of his mother laughing after pushing him down the stairs, while her daughter claimed she showed her how to cut herself properly when she found out she was self-harming.

During the five years before they were taken into care in May 2011, there were also allegations of children being beaten and abandoned for days.

The court heard the woman accepts using Fairy Liquid washing detergent to wash some of their mouths out if they used a bad word, but denied using excessive force.

She claims her children are not telling the truth, and that she only ever used “reasonable chastisement” when disciplining her children – a defence that no longer exists, but did apply at the time of the alleged offences.

Judge Karen O’Connor told the jurors they would have to consider that in relation to the some of the allegations, and she asked them to approach the evidence in a “cold and dispassionate manner” before sending them out to begin their deliberations.

Update (4.47pm): In light of the recent incident in Cork and ahead of the Help Not Harm Symposium next week, Graham de Barra, Director of Help Not Harm said: "This tragic case highlights the need for the health services to become proactive in preventing drug-related deaths.

"Drug-testing facilities are proven to reduce the number of deaths caused drugs because people know exactly what they are consuming.

"Information on dosing and knowing what's in the drug is essential for the health and well-being of people who use drugs.

"If we acknowledge that drugs are going to be taken then we should make it as safe as possible."

"The Welsh government fund drug-testing facilities and it's proven to have been very effective at saving lives.

"Josie Smith of Public Health Wales will present research into this at our upcoming symposium on the 28th January in Buswells hotel.

"This is a good opportunity for policy-makers and the public to become informed about this health-based approach."

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