Darlington woman made child eat off floor while her husband drained trust fund of another

The judge said Lorna Dennington was the "prime mover in this callous behaviour” while Christopher Dennington "allowed it to happen". Credit: GAZETTE MEDIA COMPANY SYNDICATION

A woman inflicted cruel punishments on three children while her husband drained a trust fund belonging to another, a court heard.

Lorna Dennington, 47, abused the youngsters, now adults, who were placed in the care of her and her husband Christopher Dennington over the last 20 years.

On Tuesday 6 September, Teesside Crown Court heard Mrs Dennington subjected the children to a raft of abuse.

Her ill-treatment included hitting the children if they did not complete chores to her standards while she made one girl eat it off the floor after she was sick.

The court was told she was physically abusive - smashing the head of a boy into a cupboard for coming home late from school, pulling a girl from her bed and down the stairs by her hair, and scrubbing the children's gums until they bled.

Philip Morley, prosecuting, said Mr Dennington, 50, hit one boy on the leg and threatened to kill him.

'Childhood filled with abuse'

Mr Morley told the court that Mr Dennington also opened a bank account to keep one of the children's trust fund money in.

The boy's father had died and had left him £58,000 - but Mr Dennington was found to have spent all but £1,000.

The court heard that he used the account to pay for shopping, but Mr Dennnington disputed this saying he used the money to buy the boy things he needed for his bedroom.

While he admitted fraud, Mr Dennington also insisted that the boy had agreed to the spending.

In statements, the three victims, who all left the Denningtons' home as soon as they were old enough, told of a childhood filled with abuse.

The victim whose trust fund was spent said that he had planned to use his trust fund to buy himself a home while another said she was suicidal by the age of 17 and suffers from an eating disorder, as well as post traumatic stress disorder.

John Nixon, defending Mr Dennington, said that his client was a "vulnerable" adult who had "difficulty processing information when under stress".

Mr Nixon said his client had asked social services for help while he was struggling with his family.

Michele Turner, for Mrs Dennington, told the court that her client had herself suffered from childhood trauma before entering into a violent marriage.

"She struggled to cope," Ms Turner said, and after marrying Mr Dennington and taking in three children, she was "ill equipped for such responsibility".

She said she had since been diagnosed with emotionally unstable personality disorder which was "at the root of all of this behaviour".

Judge Jeremy Barnett told the couple: "The children described a household where they would be punished, slapped and suffer degrading behaviour. You still deny some of the incidents.

"Christopher Dennington basically stood back and watched it and allowed it to happen. One victim has spoken of how he didn't enjoy his childhood. Another has felt suicidal.

"Christopher Dennington, you dipped into one of the victim's trust fund as and when it suited you. Even now you are saying he wanted to feather his own nest- his bedroom. He feels that his money was his passport to a new life and you've taken this from him.

"But Lorna Dennington was the prime mover in this callous behaviour."

Both defendants pleaded guilty to three counts of child abuse while Mr Dennington admitted one count of fraud by abuse of position.

Mrs Dennnington collapsed in tears as she and her husband were handed 12-month prison terms.

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