Great-gran forced starving kids to eat dog food in ‘deeply disturbing’ abuse

A pensioner forced six children to eat dog food over a sickening seven-year campaign of abuse.

Frances Forsyth, 80, has been jailed for punching, slapping and kicking children who stayed with her on occasions between 1973 and 1980, the Daily Record reports.

As part of the horror she inflicted, she held a young girl's hand against an electric fire until it burnt and left them dirty and starving with nothing but a dog bowl to scavenge from.

The OAP admitted to offences of neglect and assault at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in March last year but due to the pandemic and her ill health, she was only sentenced on Monday having arrived in court by ambulance.

Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC told the frail great-grandmother she had carried out "very grave" and "deeply disturbing" assaults on the children and jailed her for 16 months.

He said: "[The offences] show a lengthy catalogue of disturbing ill-treatment, neglect, indifference and assault against very young and very vulnerable children. Under any view they amount to a gross breach of trust."

John Keenan, defending, said she "accepted full responsibility" for her offending despite the social work report claiming otherwise.

Forsyth's accomplice, her then-husband Brian McKernan, died three weeks after he was placed on the sex offenders register in November 2019.

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Both occasionally looked after six children who they dished out “routine beatings” to.

The court heard Forsyth would encourage her husband to beat the children while she also carried out sadistic assaults on them after they failed to carry out household chores.

All of the children were described as being "starving, poorly clothed and not provided for" and regularly left "dirty, unwashed and smelling badly" and were only "afforded scraps of leftovers" at mealtimes.

Prosecutor Nicole Lavelle said: "The children would often eat mouldy food off the floor," and would resort to stealing dog biscuits from a cupboard because they were so hungry.

The fiscal added Forsyth gave fresh food to her four dogs and the starving children would on occasions be forced to raid the animal’s bowls when she left the room.

John Keenan, defending, said his client had "accepted full responsibility" for her offending despite the social work report claiming otherwise.

The brief added Forsyth would be "extremely vulnerable" if she was sentenced to custody and she had not committed any further offending in the past 40 years.

Forsyth pleaded guilty to four charges of wilfully ill-treating, abandoning and neglecting and assaulting six children at an address in Edinburgh between September 21, 1973 and December 31, 1980.

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