June 2003

Boys beaten daily by cruel stepmum

A CHILD abuser was today starting a four-year prison term after subjecting her stepsons to a catalogue of daily beatings spanning more than a decade.

Marilyn Martland, 48, of Hawksworth Road, Accrington, was jailed for 16 offences, including eight counts of actual bodily harm against the two boys, Tony, now 29, and Craig, 28.

She was convicted of the offences, which date back to the 1980s, by a jury at Preston Crown Court on March 13.

Martland, who has an alcohol problem and a personality disorder, must also spend an extra three months in jail for failing to attend court for a hearing on June 6, while she was remanded on bail.

The court heard she had beaten the boys daily by hitting and kicking them and pulling their hair, though neither had ever required hospital treatment for their injuries.

Judge Peter Openshaw said the case was “a striking example of the destructive nature of child abuse” and had left the victims with “an ever-present burden”.

He told Martland: “The seriousness doesn’t lie so much in the nature of the injuries but in the repetition that nearly every day or other day they were hit or kicked or had their hair pulled.

“It was a household quite without affection. You relished the power and control which by your cruelty you wielded towards them.

“What you did to them has cast a shadow over their lives.

“There came a time when, as one of the victims said, this issue just had to be addressed and after a series of confrontations one of them went to the police. After a stressful experience they have the satisfaction of seeing justice done.

“You have shown nothing but contempt for them and for these proceedings. You have shown not the slightest regret or remorse for what you have done and are without the slightest awareness of the damage you have done.

“The sentence will never match the suffering of the victims but must mark public condemnation for your persistent cruelty.”

Det Sgt Alison Harris, of the Major Crime Unit, said: “I think the judge summed it up perfectly. We are very pleased with the sentence.

“Our thoughts are with the victims. They have had to endure the abuse throughout their childhoods and they have to live with it for the rest of their lives.

“We all have a duty to protect children in all environments.”