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23rd May 2023

Pensioner used child’s head to mop up urine and put rats on kids in shocking child abuse case


‘What the children were put through was quite clearly an absolute hell’

A pensioner has been jailed for 10 years for shocking child cruelty – including putting rats on her children’s and using a victim’s hair to mop up urine.

Elsie Wheddon carried out the abuse against three children in Oxfordshire almost five decades ago.

The children were said to have been locked in cupboards, had “rat-like creatures” run over their bodies, threatened with her husband’s guns, and were beaten with a belt or punched.

The trial also heard Wheddon, 72, used one of the girl’s heads “as a mop” after the youngster urinated on the floor in a childhood indiscretion.

She is alleged to have participated in the physical violence dished out on the two girls and a boy by her then husband Stephen Wheddon, who has since died.

Prosecutors say she also knew about – and failed to stop – her husband sexually assaulting the girls.

One of the victims said she only came forward decades later after seeing a similar storyline on the Australian soap Home and Away.

The woman told detectives that “something just clicked” when she watched a character in the soap.

Wheddon was previously found guilty of 13 counts of cruelty after a trial at Oxford Crown Court.

On Monday, Recorder Stuart Trimmer KC jailed her for 10 years at Lewes Crown Court, sitting at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

The judge said Wheddon participated in or allowed “unspeakable acts” that caused “life-long incalculable harm”.

Welcoming the lengthy sentence, detective constable Phillipa Metcalfe, of Thames Valley Police, said: “This case can only be described as truly horrific and what the children were put through was quite clearly an absolute hell.

“Elsie Wheddon was cruel, violent and also allowed her then husband, to carry out sexual and physical abuse against the victims.”

During the trial, in a written account read back to her as she was on the witness stand, one of the victims said: “It was just like living in a horror movie.

“I did not know what was going on. I quite often used to wet myself on purpose. I was always locked in the bedroom. I was very nervous, the hitting became more regular. I got hit every day.

“The door was bolted – I would just curl up in a ball and hope I would be rescued.”

The woman, who can not be named for legal reasons, said she was made to strip and run up and down the hallway while being hit.

“It became just fun to them,” she added.

“They used to get their children to hit me as well.”

In one incident she had written about, she added: “I had just had a bath and was shouting, crying and shaking. I knew I was about to get a beating.

“(The defendant) grabbed my hair and started to mop the floor with it where I had wet myself.

“She wiped my face with it and threw me into a bath, put me under water.

“I was fighting back but it was no use. I had no energy and totally relaxed my body. She was ducking me under the water and holding me there. My whole body went limp.”

The woman also recalled one incident where she alleged the defendant’s husband came to apologise for hitting her, before sexually abusing her.

The court heard she had written her life story but changed names and places as she had wanted her children to see it and understand after she had died.

She added: “I wanted my kids to realise they could break the circle, not be like any of them and can still be good.”

She also wrote a poem which finished with the line “I always knew one day I’d care.”

She told the court she meant this as “one day I’d be strong enough to tell someone what they did to me.”

Prosecutor Matthew Walsh told jurors during the trial that the three children allegedly suffered a catalogue of abuse while living with the Wheddons.

On another occasion, when both Elsie and Stephen were present, the same girl was “thrown in the bath in her nightie and dressing gown, pushed under so she could not breathe”, Walsh told the jury.

The boy was allegedly burnt with a cigarette lighter, leaving him with a mark on his back, then locked in the loft after he failed to heed an instruction not to cry, it was said.

Speaking in a video recorded interview, one of the women added: “It was like we was their personal punchbags. That’s what it feels like. I was their punchbag.”

The second woman described being repeatedly molested by Stephen Wheddon, telling a detective of hearing “the lock go” on her bedroom door and the man entering the room.

She claimed he had twice “had sex” with her.

He was said to have called for his wife after injuring the girl and she bathed the child.

The woman said Wheddon told her husband after the second time:

“You can’t do that no more.”

The prosecutor said that Wheddon, when interviewed by the police, said she thought she had treated the children well and denied the specific cruelty allegations.

She had not seen her ex-husband for “many years”.

Both female complainants suggested that Wheddon was a “different person” when around her husband.

Wheddon, of Northend, Warwickshire, had denied all counts of cruelty to a child under-16 years.

The offences all date back to the 1970s but was unanimously convicted of all charges by a jury.

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