From Gloucestershire Echo Newspaper Friday, September 26, 2008,
APPEAL judges today cut the 14-year jail sentence imposed on a foster mother who subjected three children in her care to a “horrifying catalogue of cruel and sadistic treatment”.
They said that although Eunice Spry, 64, routinely beat, abused and starved the vulnerable youngsters over a 19-year period, their injuries were not as serious as other cases where lesser sentences had been imposed.
Giving the ruling, Mr Justice Burnett said the part of the sentence which reflected the cruelty and violence should be reduced to 10 years.
Together with the two-year sentence for witness intimidation and attempting to pervert the course of justice, Spry will now serve 12 years.
The devout Jehovah’s Witness was sentenced at Bristol Crown Court in March last year after a four-week trial when it was heard that she had forced sticks down the children’s throats and made them eat their own vomit and rat excrement.
Mr Justice Burnett, detailing what he called a “catalogue of abuse”, said as punishment for misbehaving, Spry would beat the children on the soles of their feet and force them to drink washing-up liquid and bleach.
She even confined one girl to a wheelchair for three years after a car crash in a cynical bid to maximise compensation for the accident.
Spry staunchly denied all the claims made against her and insisted the only physical punishment she ever used was “a smack on the bottom”.
But the jury convicted her of 26 charges, ranging from unlawful wounding, cruelty to a person under 16, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and witness intimidation when she threatened one of the children who was to give evidence against her.
The three victims, known as Victim A, B and C, all gave evidence describing how their daily routines were punctuated by random acts of bizarre and sadistic violence at the hands of their foster mother.
The abuse was finally discovered after another Jehovah’s Witness secretly confronted one of the children about marks to her head caused when Spry rubbed sandpaper over her face.
Trial judge Simon Darwall-Smith told Spry that this was the worst case he had come across in 40 years in law.
The offences took place in two of Spry’s homes in Gloucestershire between 1986 and 2005.
“All these children have suffered serious psychiatric damage because of the ordeal that they have endured,” said Mr Justice Burnett.
He added: “We have found this case especially difficult to resolve.
“We consider that the sentence of 12 years on account of the cruelty in this case is out of the range which can be inferred as appropriate from previous decisions in this court.
“We are particularly mindful of the fact that in this case the physical injuries could have been much more serious than mercifully they were.”
Detective Constable Victoria Martell who has been involved in the investigation for over two years, since the first call was made to Police by Victim A on December 26 2004 commented; “It is disappointing that the sentence has been reduced, in my opinion the fourteen year sentence originally given to Ms Spry was commensurate to the gravity of the offences she committed and the severity of the abuse she inflicted upon the children in her care.
“The whole case, which began in 2004, was extremely shocking and emotional for all involved, and while I am pleased that my role and the role of Gloucestershire Constabulary to get justice for the victims was achieved, none of us must forget the appalling abuse the three victims have suffered and the undoubted distress this has caused.
“Having been brought up in isolation the social skills of the victims were largely undeveloped and they were, at first, very timid and shy.
“I am pleased to say that they are now a lot more confident and are flourishing as young adults. I certainly hope they can continue to enjoy the rest of their lives.”
You can read it all in the book ‘CHILD C’ by Christopher Spry