Youngsters 'had come to think of abuse as normal'
PARENTS of a brother and sister ran a household in which the youngsters were beaten, banned from using the toilet and denied food so they had to steal to survive, a court heard.
The mum and dad, whom the Post is not naming to protect the identities of their children, inflicted the harsh punishment regime so regularly the youngsters thought it was "normal", Bristol Crown Court was told.
A police inquiry into the alleged abuse on a south Bristol estate led to the father's daughter from a previous relationship coming forward to claim that he had sexually abused her.
The father, who is in his 50s, denies four indecent assaults and two charges of indecency with a child relating to the daughter from his previous relationship, and a cruelty charge relating to the younger brother and sister.
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His wife, who is in her 40s, denies cruelty to her children.
Opening the case yesterday Virginia Cornwall, prosecuting, said the younger children spoke of their parents mistreating them after they were taken into foster care.
She said: "It was clear from what they were telling (their foster mum) that they had been hit with sticks by their parents. The girl displayed challenging behaviour.
"Contact was continued with the parents, by court order, which was moved to twice a year."
Miss Cornwall said it was after such a visit that both children complained of abuse and were both interviewed by police.
She told the jury: "The girl explained she was regularly hit with sticks and on one occasion a plank of wood.
"Punishment included being locked outside a couple of days, having to urinate in a bucket and not being allowed to use the bathroom.
"She said her mother tried to lock her in the attic. The children were deprived of food and stole from shops in order to eat."
The jury heard the boy told police he too was struck with sticks and a plank of wood, predominantly to his legs.
Miss Cornwall said: "He grew up thinking what was happening to him was normal. He was aged four or five when he was first hit.
"The Crown says the treatment of these children was deliberate. There are accounts from both children of assaults and ill treatment, on a regular basis, prior to their removal into foster care."
The court heard the father's daughter from his previous relationship came forward.
She told police he would call her his "little angel" and sexually abuse her when her mother was out at work.
He told her it was their "secret", the court heard.
The older daughter described how her father would sit her on his lap and watch videos with a sexual content.
He would then touch her improperly, and on one occasion got her to touch him improperly above his clothes, the jury was told.
She described how sometimes her mum would return home unexpectedly and she would have to hide.
Both defendants were interviewed by police and declined to comment, the jury was told.
The case continues.