'I got some bit of justice': Victim speaks out as Cork woman who beat her throughout her childhood jailed  

'I got some bit of justice': Victim speaks out as Cork woman who beat her throughout her childhood jailed  

Cora Desmond from Youghal pictured at Cork circuit court.

A girl who was beaten systematically through her childhood and forced to eat food laced with vinegar, chilli and mustard was also mocked by her father’s partner as being like Cinderella.

Today, the victim of this systematic neglect urged other victims to come forward and make complaints before it is too late.

Sergeant Mark Ward who investigated the case against 49-year-old Bridget Kenneally of 19 The Green, Duncoran, Youghal, County Cork, said she beat the child for ten years using implements that included a poker, spatula, wooden spoon, a set of hinges and length of a Hoover pipe.

Kenneally was jailed for two years today on a charge of assault causing harm to Cora Desmond, who was then aged ten, in October 2009 at 7 Kenny’s Lane, Youghal.

Cora Desmond, now 21, said afterwards, “I didn’t expect her to get anytime to be honest, I expected her to walk free because it’s been so long coming. It was reported over four and a half years ago. I just thought this is it, I’ve wasted my time again, she is going to get away with it.

“But thankfully she didn’t and I got some bit of justice. I don’t know if I feel relieved – not yet, I think I am still processing it. 

“It was nerve-wracking coming to court.

“My advice to others is, speak up. Don’t be afraid to speak up whether it’s a friend, a teacher, a work colleague. Just tell someone and get out of the situation sooner rather than later because you never know when it could be too late. I was six when it started and I was 16 when it finished.

 Cora Desmond from Youghal, co. Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Court.
Cora Desmond from Youghal, co. Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Court.

“I told my mother and my mom helped me get to the guards and we reported it and then a couple of weeks later my dad and her (Kenneally) split once my dad found out about it. He had no idea about it. He was completely in the dark about it. She never touched her own kids.

“I just want to say a big thank to the guards. They worked so hard and so tirelessly over the last four and half years. Without them I don’t think we’d be standing here. Sgt Ward was just remarkable – he was absolutely amazing – he’s been at my side the whole time.” 

THE CASE 

A woman who systematically beat and tortured her partner’s daughter for years and mocked her as a kind of Cinderella was jailed for two years.

Bridget Kenneally of 19 The Green, Duncoran, Youghal, County Cork, beat the child for ten years using implements that included a poker, spatula, wooden spoon, a set of hinges and length of a Hoover pipe.

Kenneally was jailed for two years at Cork Circuit Criminal Court on a charge of assault causing harm to Cora Desmond, who was then aged ten, in October 2009 at 7 Kenny’s Lane, Youghal.

Ms Desmond did not believe the apology that was made today and said, “I feel she enjoyed torturing me and she will never actually be remorseful for what she has done.” 

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin said, “This continued brutally causing great harm to the child victim over a long period of time. From the point of view of the cruelty of the assault she was in loco parentis when significant abuse took place. We are talking about systemic abuse – cruelty of a controlling verbal and physical nature, including the breaking of bone and other hospitalisations. And force-feeding of vinegar and chilli and other items.

“She was deprived of a childhood. What a child might expect of a carefree beginning was lost to her in painful misery.

“I have to find with the victim when she says the apology is not accepted by her. That is significant because she knows the defendant and she is not impressed by the apology.

“The psychologist’s report (on Kenneally) shows limited or no insight and limited or no remorse. It is full of apologia for herself… She feels there is a vendetta against her. She has offered €5,000 to offset out of pocket expenses the victim may have suffered. I accept that is a significant figure from her limited circumstances.” 

Patrick O’Riordan defence barrister said the accused expressed her remorse and apologies. He said she had a psychiatric history that dated back to the death of her 15-year-old brother in a car accident.

Mr O’Riordan said of the accused, “She had difficulty coping.” He asked the judge to take into consideration the plea of guilty, the lack of previous convictions, compensation and present responsibilities.” 

Imelda Kelly prosecution barrister said the Director of Public Prosecutions had accepted the plea of guilty to the charge of assault causing harm in 2009 on the basis that the surrounding background would be outlined at the sentencing. The DPP also said it could have been dealt with at district court level on a plea of guilty.

Sergeant Mark Ward said the investigation commenced when a 16-year-old Cora Desmond made a complaint of assault by Bridget Kenneally who was in a relationship with Cora’s father.

The victim was taken to Mercy University Hospital with over 50 bruises to her body. As well as outlining years of physical assaults, she told Sgt. Ward about Kenneally adding chilli, vinegar and strong spices to her food and being forced to eat it.

One of the threats used against her making a complaint was that she would be separated from her sister if she told of what was happening.

Sgt. Ward said Cora’s father was no longer in a relationship with the defendant. Sgt. Ward said Bridget Kenneally was interviewed about the assaults and cruelty but made absolutely no admissions to gardaí.

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