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Alleged victim’s younger brother tells child cruelty trial that his parents often beat his sister

By Declan Brennan

The younger brother of a girl allegedly assaulted by her parents has told their trial that his father referred to “some evil thing” to try to scare him.

The 39-year-old man and 36-year-old woman have pleaded not guilty to two charges of assault causing serious harm to the child and three charges of child cruelty at the family home in Dublin on dates between June 28 and July 2, 2019.

Anne Rowland SC, prosecuting, has told the jury that the child was aged nine when she sustained a brain injury that prevents her from normal functioning and that she is likely to need 24-hour care for the rest of her life.

The parents, who are originally from north Africa, cannot be named to protect the identity of the child.

Their trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard that the couple moved to Ireland around 2011 and that in March 2019, their eldest daughters, including the alleged victim, moved to Ireland to join them.

The complainant’s younger brother, now aged nine, told Ms Rowland that when his two sisters arrived, his sister was initially happy, “but afterwards no”.

He said this was “because my parents hit her”.

He said his mother used a leather belt and a phone charger to hit her and she would strike her on her arms, legs and back.

He said his sister would cry and scream in pain.

He said his mother would hit his sister whenever she ate slowly and she would count down while his sister was eating.

He said that on two occasions, his mother bit his sister on the arm.

He said he saw marks and red bruises on his sister’s body. He said on one occasion, he saw his father pinning his sister up against a wall while he choked her with one hand.

He said his sister’s feet were in the air pointing straight down and she was making a choking sound. He told the jury that his father then let go and his sister “dropped on the ground”.

He said she was laying on the ground. The child testified that his mother told him that his father is “teaching her a lesson”.

Ms Rowland asked the child if he ever heard anyone speak of demons and he said yes, adding “the whole demon thing was all planned”.

He said his sister was on her knees in the living room with a towel over her head and his father opened up the door to the apartment balcony “and said for something to be gone”.

Asked what the thing was, the boy replied “I dunno, some evil thing”. He said: “It was sort of planned, it’s all fake” and said his father “was just trying to scare us”. He said that at the time, he was scared.

He described another incident when his mother put a hot knife on his sister’s arm and his sister was screaming while his mother laughed. He said he smelt burning and he felt sorry for his sister.

Under cross-examination from James Dwyer SC, defending the father, the boy said that the father was not present when his mother did this.

On another occasion, his mother got a “weird spray” and sprayed it on his sister’s “private” parts after making her take down her underpants, the boy testified.

He said that on the day the ambulance came for his sister, he saw his sister lying on the floor “with her eyes open but she couldn’t see”.

“My mum thought she was dead for a second. She was saying she might go to jail,” the boy testified. He said his mother got a pair of pliers and said to his sister, “If you don’t wake up, I’m gonna pull you with these pliers in your private part.”

He said his mother then did this and afterwards began begging for his sister “to wake up”. He said there was “stuff that looked like foam” coming out of his sister’s mouth.

He said his mother then began searching the internet on “how to do CPR” and she tried to do CPR on his sister.  He said that before the ambulance came, his mother was telling him to lie and say that his sister fell in the shower.

He told Mr Dwyer that his mother rang his father and his father was shouting and saying to his mother something like, “Why did you do that” and, “You went down the wrong path”.

He agreed that his father took him to a martial arts class and to the swimming pool and bought him play-dough.

He told Patrick Gageby SC, counsel for the mother, that he was happy in his new foster home and didn’t want to go back to live with his parents.

The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.

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