Council ‘sorry’ for tortured children

Date: 2007-03-22
Source: Times Online

Simon de Bruxelles

A local authority has apologised to three children who were subjected to years of torture and beatings by a foster parent.

Gloucestershire County Council admitted yesterday that warnings from schools, health visitors, social workers and neighbours about Eunice Spry, 62, had been in vain.

Spry, who fostered two girls and a boy, was this week convicted at Bristol Crown Court of 26 charges of cruelty and assault. The jury was told that she would ram sticks down the children’s throats, and made them eat cat-food and drink bleach.

The council blamed a lack of communication between agencies for its failure to stop the abuse, which lasted for nearly 20 years. Jo Davidson, group director of children and young people’s services, said: “Concerns were not shared and that’s a failure of the system. We will apologise to them [Spry’s victims].”

“Concerns were raised by health visitors, the school and a social worker. Neighbours and friends also raised concerns about Mrs Spry’s austere style of parenting. Some concerns weren’t raised with social services by medical staff such as GPs and a psychiatrist. There were repeated incidents of a child having broken teeth — and we didn’t know. Different people knew different bits but there was no pulling together of information.”

Spry took the children out of school and ensured that they were never alone with doctors or social workers. She adopted two and became guardian of the third, and social services stopped visiting. The children continued to live in Spry’s vermin-infested house in Gloucester. The council claims that new measures would prevent similar chronic abuse now.

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