October 2011

Couple who filmed themselves forcing spider into toddler’s mouth are jailed

A couple who filmed themselves forcing a spider into a toddler’s mouth have been jailed.

James Kirman, 31, and Rachel Drinkell, 24, from Grimsby, Humberside, were seen on video pinning the little girl to the ground as she screamed and cried.

The sick pair made videos of themselves tormenting the girl and a baby boy by having sex in front of them and sounding an airhorn in the baby’s ear.

They were eventually caught after they made the girl hold the baby against the radiator, leaving him with severe burns.

A paramedic discovered the injured child in a shower and he was taken to the burns unit at Pinderfields Hospital in Wakefield.

Relatives of the children cried as the videos were shown to Grimsby Crown Court on Friday.

Kirman and Drinkell admitted the cruelty charges relating to failure to supervise the children properly, and to the delay in contacting medical services following the radiator burning.

Defending Kirman, Ernie Lidster said the spider episode was ‘a joke that went too far’.

You mercilessly inflicted suffering. You sounded an airhorn. When you did it, you recorded it for posterity, or more likely so you could look back at it for your own enjoyment

He said his client accepted he should have ‘taken the initiative’ and called an ambulance after the boy was burned on the radiator.

But Jeremy Evans, prosecuting, said both adults could be seen smiling as they inflicted the cruelty.

He said that experts at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, reported the behaviour had left psychological effects on the children.

One of the children was now ‘reserved’ as they slowly recovered from injuries, he said. Another has problems sleeping.

Simon Hirst, defending Drinkell, pointed out that the couple had sex under a duvet and said: ‘She accepts the children are the victims.’

But both were sentenced to 32 months in prison.

Judge David Tremberg said: ‘With the privilege of child care comes a heavy responsibility. Each of you were in a position of trust and one of a duty of care.

‘Your breach of their trust and the trust placed in you was consistent, serious and substantial. Your behaviour was a course of ill-treatment and cruelty. You acted as a team.’

He added: ‘It was over an extended period of time. You engaged in sexual intercourse in the presence of both children.’

The judge echoed remarks from the children’s psychological reports, which stated that the incidents would have caused vulnerability and risked emotional harm.

‘You mercilessly inflicted suffering. You sounded an airhorn. When you did it you recorded it for posterity, or more likely so you could look back at it for your own enjoyment.

‘It is unbelievable. These children were terrorised systematically.’

Investigating officer Detective Constable Darren Fox said: ‘This is one of the most horrific cases of its kind that I have been involved in which has seen young children subjected to such abuse.

‘I can only hope that those involved have time to think about the actions and behaviour which has led to them receiving custodial sentences.

‘My thoughts at this time are with the two children.’