‘Sadistic’ woman, 70, from Brightlingsea jailed for four years for ‘cruel and vicious’ attacks on children

Sandra Clayton has been jailed for four years. Picture: Essex Police

Sandra Clayton has been jailed for four years. Picture: Essex Police - Credit: Essex Police

A “sadistic” Essex woman who forced children to fight each other for food and threw them across the room as part of a “game” has been jailed for four years.

Ricky McGovern was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court.

Ricky McGovern was sentenced at Ipswich Crown Court. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Sandra Clayton also forced soiled clothes into the children’s mouths and forced one of them to drink bleach, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

Sentencing 70-year-old Clayton, Judge Rupert Overbury said: “You deliberately assaulted, ill- treated and exposed each of them to unnecessary suffering or injury through both direct and indirect violence.”

He described her behaviour as “remarkably cruel and vicious”.

He said: “What you did was calculated, deliberate and sadistic.”

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He said the effect of what she did to the children, who are all now adults, had been “catastrophic” and had left them scarred physically and psychologically.

Clayton, of Chapel Road, Brightlingsea, admitted three offences of child cruelty dating back to the 1970s.

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Michael Crimp, prosecuting, said the cruelty occurred while Clayton was looking after the three children, none of whom were related to her.

He said that while looking after the children Clayton had played a game called “ swingies” during which she would swing them round the room by an arm and a leg and then let them go, causing them to hit either a wall or furniture.

One boy suffered a cut to his chin which required hospital treatment and stitches after hitting a bench and on another occasion he had a swelling on his head after hitting a radiator pipe.

Clayton had made two of the children sleep without covers when it was cold and made them stand naked outside in a coal shed.

Mr Crimp said Clayton had also assaulted the children by punching them and had cut one boy on the back of the leg with a knife.

She had also forced a boy to drink bleach and had struck one on the site of a previous injury,

She also fed a gluten rich diet to a child she knew to be gluten intolerant and forced him to eat his vomit.

Folashade Abiodun for Clayton said her client regretted her behaviour and was now a different person.

She said Clayton was devastated about what she had done and wished to apologise to the victims.

Judge: Clayton’s abuse had ‘catastrophic’ effect on victims

Sentencing Sandra Clayton, Judge Rupert Overbury described her treatment of the children as “sadistic” and “deliberately cruel”.

“The effect of your physical and emotional abuse left the children frightened, confused, anxious and scarred, physically and psychologically,” said the judge.

“The effect of what you did to these children has been catastrophic, but fortunately each has begun to recover in their own individual ways.

“You were neither inexperienced, immature or suffering from a lack of control. It is obvious that the children, now adults in their 40s, have suffered long-term harm, including impairment to their own personal lives; psychiatric issues; low self-esteem; violent behaviour; addictive behaviour and panic attacks,” said the judge.

He said Clayton had no previous convictions and her pleas of guilty had meant that none of the victims had to relive their horrific childhood experiences before the court.

Victim: This is something I haven’t been able to move past’

All three of Sandra Clayton’s victims were in court for her sentencing hearing and two of them read out personal statements about the effect her cruelty had on them.

One of them described undertaking multiple courses of therapy in an attempt to move past the abuse she had suffered.

She said she had felt responsible for the two other victims and had sometimes stepped in and taken punches for them.

“But I didn’t always know what was about to happen and there were times I believe that perhaps I could have done something but didn’t,” she said.

“Despite counselling and therapy this is something I haven’t been able to move past. I know that I was a child then, but I feel I had a responsibility towards the boys.”

The abuse had a long term impact on her relationships.

A male victim said the ill treatment resulted in his behaviour “spiralling out of control” and led him to drink and take drugs.

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