A husband and wife face 12 months behind bars after subjecting children to a vile torture campaign lasting more than 20 years.
Lorna and Christopher Dennington abused their three victims, all now adults, by making them eat off the floor, brushing their teeth until they bled, and spraying water in the face of one, preventing him from breathing, Teesside Crown Court heard yesterday (September 6).
The couple, from Darlington, admitted multiple charges of child cruelty that caused one victim to attempt suicide and left her with severe lasting mental health issues.
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Lorna Dennington, 47, made the victim eat off the floor and even waved a knife in her face when she refused to finish her meal after being sick.
The woman has been left with an eating disorder after being called fat in front of her siblings.
She said: "A couple of months ago I did attempt suicide and that was because of what they did to me.
"They made me feel as though I was the problem. The police and the social services, they took me back to them when I ran away. My childhood was spent frightened of what horrible things would happen to me next."
Another girl was humiliated by the adult woman who would check for period stains in her underwear and hit her if she found any, performing the cruel act in front of the other children.
The girls were also pulled from their beds by the hair when they were thought to have broken rules – in one instance the girl had cut her hair without the permission of her cruel caregivers.
The children were also made to take plaque tablets after brushing their teeth, and if the Denningtons spotted stains, they would scrub the youngsters' gums until they bled.
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Lorna would even use an abrasive kitchen pad on their skin to clean them in the bath.
The boy in the Denningtons' care also suffered.
On one occasion, after playing in a river, he came home with wet trousers.
This prompted evil Lorna Dennington to push him into a bath and force the showerhead into his face, shouting: "If you want to be in a river, try this!"
The boy reportedly struggled to breathe during the ordeal, and the court heard he was later abused with a baseball by Lorna Dennington.
The couple would even injure the boy for coming home late by repeatedly smashing his head into a cupboard, hitting his legs or threatening to kill him.
The boy even had £58,000 drained from a trust fund his late father had set up for him.
Prosecutor Michael Morley revealed Christopher Dennington had opened a Santander bank account to store the money in but "dipped into" the fund and left the boy with just £1,000.
The victim said: "I am gutted that the money left to me by my dad has gone. I wanted to buy a house with it."
He added: "My time living with Lorna and Christopher has deeply affected me. If anybody near me raises a hand I automatically flinch."
Defence counsel for Christopher, John Nixon, said Dennington was a "vulnerable" adult who "had difficulty processing information when under stress".
Nixon also said Dennington had asked for help from social services in the past.
Michele Turner, defending Lorna Dennington, said her client had suffered from childhood trauma.
Turner said the defendant was "ill-equipped" for the responsibility she took on when she married Christopher and took in three children.
Lorna Dennington has since been diagnosed with unstable personality disorder, which the defence labelled "the root of all this behaviour."
Judge Jeremy Barnett said: "The children described a household where they would be punished, slapped and suffer degrading behaviour.
"Christopher Dennington basically stood back and watched it and allowed it to happen."
He added that "Lorna Dennington was the prime mover in this callous behaviour."
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