Devon

Exeter woman Christine Copley who starved son jailed

Christine Copley Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Copley was found guilty of six counts of cruelty

A mother who starved her son, leaving him to eat hamster food and dog biscuits, has been jailed for three years.

Christine Copley, 66, ill treated her son Andrew, now 39, for more than 10 years, a court heard.

His Christmas presents were sold at car boot sales and a neighbour who saw bruising on his body called him "the saddest little boy I ever saw".

Copley, of Laburnum Road, Exeter, was found guilty of six counts of cruelty.

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Exeter Crown Court heard Copley would keep her son away from school so the authorities could not see what had happened.

Image copyright Irving of Exeter
Image caption Andrew Copley ran away from home at the age of 14 after his mother attacked him with a bottle

Mr Copley was also made to stand outside the house naked, the court heard.

An inquiry was started after the family doctor alerted social services that an investigation by them "had only scratched the surface" of her abuse.

The daily attacks started when Mr Copley was about five or six years old and carried on until he ran away from home at the age of 14 after his mother attacked him with a bottle.

She hid what she was doing from teachers and social workers by moving him from her home in Exeter to her parents' home in Chagford if he had visible bruises.

The family home was filthy with dog faeces on the floors and Mr Copley was bullied at school because he smelt, the court heard.

Mr Copley said in a statement: "Christine Copley beat me, tortured me, with her verbal and emotional abuse and the terrible way I had to live. I still relive my childhood on a daily basis.

"I wished for death when I was a child and I wish for death still today as I struggle to get over what she did. The authorities did not help, even when I begged them."

No-one was available for immediate comment from social services.

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