Couple 'abused foster children for 24 years'

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A COUPLE subjected children in their foster care to brutal ill treatment over a 24-year period, a court was told yesterday.

Children who wet the bed were plunged into cold baths and their heads held under the water, it was claimed at Sheffield Crown Court. Another youngster was allegedly forced to sleep outside in a kennel with the family dogs.

William Hanby, 60, and his wife Marie, 61, both of Fulwood Road, Sheffield, deny 12 charges involving incidents alleged to have happened between January 1967 and February 1991. Mr Hanby faces six charges of cruelty, causing unnecessary suffering and one of indecent assault. His wife faces five charges of cruelty.

The court was told that the Hanbys fostered around 100 children sent to them by social services. The couple, who could not have children, adopted a girl, Dawn, in 1967, and a boy, Simon, in 1971, but the ill treatment was reserved for the foster children.

John Mellor, for the prosecution, said that one boy was beaten by Mr Hanby with a garden cane until it shattered, leaving splinters embedded in his back. He said another boy was beaten so hard with a wooden bar that it broke across his shoulders and back.

Mr Mellor said some children tried to run away, but were returned to the Hanbys by Sheffield social services. One of the children, Ann Peat, now 32, went to the Hanbys as a four-year-old in 1966. 'She suffered from bed-wetting and for this she was punished. One of the punishments was to be pulled in to the bathroom by Mrs Hanby and made to get into a bath of cold water,' Mr Mellor said.

Ian Thompson, now 28, went to the Hanbys in 1968 and was also given cold baths. 'His head would be pushed under the water. At times he thought he was going to die. Cold baths went on until he was 16 and he said he was lucky if they were less than once a week.'

The trial was adjourned.