A mother of six who sexually abused her son during a childhood of fear and neglect is expected to be sentenced next week.
The 58-year-old has appeared in Belfast Crown Court with her ex-husband, two brothers and two former lovers, an ex-RUC man.
The woman dressed in a red anorak and black jeans, had previously pleaded guilty to forcing her son to watching her have sex with her brothers and ex-RUC reserve Constable Thomas Fitzpatrick in the 1970s.
She also made the youngster put her breasts in his mouth during a period of abuse and neglect that started when he was four.
The Belfast court heard about a litany of horrific cruelty meted out to four of six siblings – one boy and his three younger sisters – by their own parents, uncles and others, including Fitzpatrick, 53, and a baker Patrick Kilmartin, 59.
The men visited the couple’s various Co Down houses which were chaotic, filthy and infested with rodents up to 30 years ago.
In one of the worst cases of its kind to come before the Crown Court in Northern Ireland, prosecuting QC Charles MacCreanor revealed how the youngsters lived in constant fear and suffered physical and sexual abuse, and neglect.
It started when they were tots in cots and lasted until 1986 when they were finally taken into care, the youngest aged eight and the oldest, 11.
Judge Mr Justice Horner heard how the mother sought to ‘educate’ her daughters, now in their 30s, about sex by making them watch her have intercourse with various men including her brothers. She told them: “You’ll have to learn this.”
The girls were not only subjected to sexual assaults and gross indecency, but were savagely beaten by their father over the years.
On two separate occasions they were beaten so hard and for so long that they wet themselves in fear.
All six accused, including Fitzpatrick, originally from Crewhill Gardens in Ardglass, and Kilmartin, originally from Bryansford Gardens in Newcastle, previously pleaded guilty to a total of 49 charges between them, dating back to the summer of 1977 to the spring of 1988.
The woman and her co-accused sat passively in the dock as they listened to the prosecution describe a plethora of abuse, assault and neglect meted out on her vulnerable children.
Described by defence counsel Brendan Kelly, as a woman of ‘impeccable character’, it is expected she will be sentenced by Mr Justice Horner next week.
The now-grown children’s mother faces the most charges, a total of 17 of cruelty and neglect and 23, involving six of sexual indecency.
She pleaded guilty to four counts of gross indecency where she forced her child to watch as she had sex with her brother and ex-police officer Thomas Fitzpatrick.
She also pleaded guilty to two counts of indecency where she forced her son to intimately touch her breasts.
The case continues on Tuesday when further pleas of mitigation on behalf of the other defendants will be given to the court.