Devon

Exeter woman Christine Copley who starved son guilty of cruelty

Christine Copley Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Copley, 65, of Laburnum Road, Exeter, was found guilty of six counts of cruelty

A mother who starved her son leaving him to survive on dog biscuits has been convicted of cruelty.

Christine Copley, 65, had denied subjecting son Andrew to daily beatings and humiliations as he was growing up in the 1980s and early 1990s.

She locked Andrew and his brother in a cupboard, Exeter Crown Court heard.

Copley, of Laburnum Road, Exeter, who denied six counts of cruelty, would put Andrew in a cold bath to reduce visible bruises, the jury heard.

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Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption The daily attacks started when Andrew was about five or six and carried on until he ran away from home at the age of 14 after a his mother had attacked him with a bottle

The attacks started when Andrew was aged five or six and carried on until he ran away from home at the age of 14 after his mother attacked him with a bottle.

Copley was arrested after her son made an initial police report about the cruelty in 2014.

The court heard his mother:

  • Whipped him with a dog lead
  • Hit him with shoes
  • Twisted his fingers or arms
  • Held her hand over his mouth and nose
  • Squeezed his genitals, or hit him in parts of the body where the marks could not be seen

The beatings started when the family lived at Hurst Avenue, Exeter and carried on when they moved to homes in Farm Hill, Exwick, and Burnthouse Lane, Exeter, the court was told.

Andrew and his younger brother, who also gave evidence in the trial, were often locked into a dark, dirty under stairs cupboard as punishments and Andrew was sometimes stripped naked and made to stand outside the house.

'Life a misery'

One of the neighbours said Andrew, now aged in his 30s, was "the saddest little boy I ever saw".

The court heard social services were alerted to the situation at the time by neighbours and friends but prosecutor Lee Bremridge said they gave the "impression they were not really interested".

After Copley was found guilty, Judge Erik Salomonsen told her: "You made your son's life a misery. I am making no promises about your sentence."

The defendant was released on bail for sentencing on 28 April.

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