A woman beat her stepdaughter, forced her to eat vinegar and chili powder, and compared her to Cinderella in a 10-year ‘torture’ ordeal.
Bridget Kenneally, 49, from Duncoran, Youghal, County Cork, Ireland, told Cora Desmond that she was like the abused Disney princess because she was ‘not wanted or loved’.
Mrs. Desmond, who was called ‘Cora Ella’ by her stepmother, had to clean up after Kenneally and her children and be treated like a ‘punching bag’, CorkBeo reports.
The part-time cleaning lady has been jailed for two years after regularly beating Mrs. Desmond, now 21, with pokers, belts and spatulas, police said.
Kenneally pleaded guilty to one charge against Ms. Desmond between October 1 and October 31, 2009, and was convicted of the victim’s abuse over a 10-year period.
Ms. Desmond, who was once found with 50 bruises on her body, made a powerful statement about the victim’s impact at a sentencing hearing in the Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
She gave a detailed account of the abuse that took place by Mrs. Kenneally from the age of six to sixteen.
The victim told Judge Sean O’Donnabhain that her father, who had full custody of her, entered into a relationship with Ms. Kenneally at the age of five.
At first, Kenne seemed “kind and caring” at first, but this honeymoon did not last long.
However, she said, “About six months into the 11-year relationship, the horrific abuse started with a few punches and punches, but gradually got worse. Over the years, it became clear to me that I was nothing but a punching bag to Bridget.
“Her children could hang out with friends of their choice. My sister and I were denied the same freedom every day. Instead, we were locked in her home to clean up her and her children.
“Bridget gave me the name Cora Ella and told me I was like Cinderella because I was the one who was not wanted or loved.”
Ms. Desmond said she has lived a double life for 11 years and felt trapped at home awaiting the next beating or punishment. At school she said she was “happy, free and vibrant”. However, she eventually lost confidence.
She added: “For eleven years she told me that no one would believe me if I spoke up about the vile, sadistic, physical and mental torture she had endured.
“I had to lie about my injuries and tell people I was just a clumsy kid. One of the many lies I had to tell was how I broke my thumb. The real truth is she broke it. She twisted my hand so badly. that it actually broke the bone.
But that wasn’t the worst. On one of the times I ended up in the hospital, I got a pretty bad blow to my head, swelling the right side of my head and face. She had doctors tell me I hit my hit in Funderland where I attended two weeks earlier. “
The grocery store employee, who says she is extremely grateful to Gardai for the sensitivity shown to her in the lead-up to the case, said her childhood involved mental and physical torture.
She explained, “One of the recurring daily punishments – she gave me excessive amounts of salt, pepper, mustard, chili powder and vinegar. Since leaving her care, I have had long-lasting negative reactions to certain smells and tastes. Memories and flashbacks of the torture she did to me.
“There were constant verbal threats that she would kill me if I ever told anyone about the abuse I suffered.”
Ms. Desmond said that because of the “heinous crime” committed to her, she is suffering from depression and is afraid of going anywhere on her own.
She added, “You (Bridget) robbed me of my carefree childhood that every child deserves. I now understand that it was not my fault and I didn’t deserve any of it, although she made me believe it.”
Meanwhile, Sergeant Mark Ward said Cora Desmond was regularly beaten with pokers, vacuum cleaner sticks, belts and spatulas during the beatings. Cora was hospitalized for a week in 2008 due to her injuries.
He said Mrs. Kenneally called Cora a variant of Cinderella and treated her and her sister differently from her biological children.
Cora was afraid to reveal the abuse because Kenneally told her she was going to be separated from her sibling. Concerns have been voiced over the years by, among others, a principal of a national school she attended. Once a GP found 50 bruises on her person.
Ms. Kenneally was informally interviewed in 2016 and arrested in 2017 after a complaint was filed against her. She refused to admit Gardai, but eventually filed a guilty plea in the case.
Sgt Ward said the guilty plea was an aid to the court as there would have been 14 witnesses involved in a trial.
Attorney Patrick O’Riordan, who represented Ms. Kenneally, said his client had filed an admission of guilt and paid $ 5,000 in damages. He said she was a woman with no previous convictions.
The junior attorney told the court that at the time of the crimes, Kenneally was caring for six children and struggling to deal with them.
He said his client had “a long psychiatric history” and would apologize to the victim in the case.
Judge Sean O’Donnabhain asked the victim if she thought the apology was genuine. She said she did not believe Kenneally was sorry for her actions.
After reading the psychologist reports, Judge O’Donnabhain said that Kenneally seemed to blame everyone for her actions, except herself.
Judge O’Donnabhain said it was warranted to consider the whole abuse.
He said, “This was a case of constant cruelty. This was systemic abuse and cruelty. Her (Cora) was deprived of a childhood because of the pain and misery she was subjected to.”
Judge O’Donnabhain jailed Kenneally for two years and said he was shocked by the story of the victim’s hospitalization and forced feeding.
After the conviction, Cora Desmond urged other victims of child abuse to come forward.
She said, “I thought I was wasting my time and she was going to get away with what she did to me, but luckily I got some kind of justice. It’s something. I would tell people to say something. Don’t be afraid to say something Tell someone Tell someone and get out of the situation sooner rather than later I was six when it started and 16 when it ended.
“I was thin and small and the easiest target. It’s over. I’m out and living my life.”