A woman who beat her six-year-old stepdaughter with a poker and told the child that she was like Cinderella because nobody loved her has been sentenced to two years in jail. Bridget Kenneally (49) admitted that she had subjected Cora Desmond, now 21, to abuse.
Kenneally pleaded guilty to one charge and the plea was accepted on the basis that the details of the assaults and torture would be heard in court. Cora Desmond’s father began a relationship with Kenneally when Cora was just five years old.
The sustained abuse included forcing the small child to eat food laced with excessively hot or bitter flavours. “She would force-feed me excessive amounts of salt, pepper, mustard, chilli powder and vinegar,” Ms Demond told the court.
She called Cora ‘Cora Ella’ and told the girl that she was just like Cinderella because she was the one that was not wanted or loved. On one occasion she broke the child’s thumb and on another she beat her with a poker, leaving the child with fifty bruises across her body.
Ms Desmond’s father and Kenneally were in a relationship for 11 years. “About six months into the relationship the horrific abuse began with a few slaps and punches but then gradually got worse. Throughout the years it became clear to me that I was nothing but a punching bag to Bridget,” Cora told the court in her victim impact statement.
Ms Desmond said that she and her older sister Chelsea were treated entirely differently to Bridget Kenneally’s own children. The Kenneally children were allowed the freedom to go out with their friends and were not beaten. Cora and her sister had to stay at home and work in the house.
“I was made to lie about my injuries – one of the many lies I had to tell was how I broke my thumb – I was made tell people that I broke it myself when I was hanging out washing in Bridget’s back garden but that’s not the case – she twisted my hand so much that it actually snapped the bone. But that was the worst of it, on one occasion I, I ended up in hospital after receiving a pretty bad beating to my head… She made me tell doctors that I hit my head when I attended Funderland two weeks earlier,” Cora Desmond told the court.
Kenneally repeatedly threatened to kill the young girl if she told anyone about the abuse. Ms Desmond said that the physical scars she has a result of the abuse are nothing compared to the mental scars.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin acknowledged Ms Kenneally’s guilty plea but said that the psychological report on Ms Kenneally showed that the woman had no remorse for what she had done to her very young stepdaughter and that she blamed everyone but herself for the torture and abuse.
She was sentenced to three years in jail but with one year deducted for her guilty plea.