Disabled boy slapped and horse-whipped

A RAMSEY woman who horsewhipped a disabled boy and subjected him to years of physical cruelty and neglect has been sent to prison. And her husband, who was said to have turned a blind eye to the abuse, has also been jailed. Martine Smith, 45, sobbed at Pe

A RAMSEY woman who horsewhipped a disabled boy and subjected him to years of physical cruelty and neglect has been sent to prison.

And her husband, who was said to have turned a blind eye to the abuse, has also been jailed.

Martine Smith, 45, sobbed at Peterborough Crown Court on Friday, as it was described how she would routinely slap the boy's face, and had even struck him with a horsewhip and dog lead.

She was found guilty of three counts of cruelty to a child, and one count of neglect, and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison.


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Her husband, 40-year-old Mark George Smith, who claimed the assaults had always taken place out of his eye shot, was found guilty of one count of neglect, and was jailed for 15 months.

Andrew Peet, prosecuting, said: "This boy was treated as a punchbag and a general dogsbody, and was made to complete humiliating chores.

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"He was treated as a second-class citizen, and Martine Smith would often call the boy names and make fun of his disability."

The court was told the cruelty and neglect began in 1997 and continued until April 2004 when the couple were arrested.

The couple who live in New Road, Ramsey, were of previous good character.

In defence of Martine Smith, who suffered from mild depression, Jennifer Dempster said her client had acted under stress.

"While there is little doubt about the seriousness of the offences, they should be put in the context of a woman who was under a lot of stress.

"The situation continued over the years until ill-treatment began to be the norm."

Claire Matthews, who was defending Mark Smith, said: "He has admitted being deliberately passive, and he knows there is no excuse for his failings, but he was never violent towards the boy."

Sentencing the Smiths, Judge Neil McKittrick said: "This child underwent a long-standing period of ill-treatment and neglect, and even though it has been said that he is difficult at times, this does not justify what happened to him.

"I am satisfied that the boy was bullied. It seems a mediaeval and disgraceful way of treating a child.

"In terms of Mark Smith, the less said about his behaviour the better.

"He put his own interests above those of the boy, to retain the favour of the woman he loved.

"Whether or not he witnessed the abuse, he certainly knew of it, and stood by as it took place.

"He could have prevented what happened but failed to do so."

The boy was said now to be flourishing.

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