AN elderly couple who locked five children up in a basement dungeon and inflicted “abuse, neglect and cruelty” for more than 15 years have been jailed.
Valerie Stannard, 73, held a boy’s hands over a stove flame and stuffed lit paper down a boy’s pyjamas while husband Roy, 74, stripped one of the girls naked for his sexual pleasure.
Roy Stannard has been jailed for 12 years for child abuse
The youngest victim was just a toddler when he was tied to his highchair and locked in a cupboard with the couple’s dogs because he cried, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.
The Stannards were convicted of 18 out of 22 charges in March relating to five youngsters involving sexual abuse and child cruelty between 1969 and 1985.
Valerie was jailed for nine years and Roy for 12.
The pair denied the charges at Snaresbrook Crown Court but were found guilty by a jury
The elderly couple sat emotionless and stared at the public gallery throughout mitigation and sentencing, before waving to family members as they were led away.
The month long trial heart breaking evidence from the victims as they describing the catalogue of abuse they suffered at the hands of the Stannards.
Jurors heard the victims spent most of their lives in the basement of the house in fear of the couple.
One victim said: “We were not living, it was just an existence.”
Sally-Ann Hales, QC, prosecuting, said: “Their lives routinely involved physical abuse, neglect and cruelty, and in the case of Mr Stannard involves sexual abuse of two of the children.
“They describe a miserable childhood characterised by cruelty of both defendants and Ms Stannard in particular.
They describe a miserable childhood characterised by cruelty of both defendants and Ms Stannard in particular.
Sally-Ann Hales, QC, Prosecuting
“Each experienced or witnessed physical abuse, cruelty or neglect on an almost daily basis.
“They lived in fear of speaking out or standing up for themselves or each other.”
One of the girls described her brother having soap put down his throat. She said: “He nearly choked and she had to hit him on the back to save him.
“She saw Valerie light paper in his pyjamas.
“When punishments were given Valerie would make the other children watch.
“Even if you hadn’t done anything wrong they would find a reason to hit you.
“Roy had a coat hanger and put it in his jumper and hung one boy on the door, making him choke.”
Valerie Stannard, 73, would make the other children watch as she punished one of them
One of the boys remembered being caught taking a slice of bread at night.
Police finally launched an investigation into the couple in July 2014.
Roy Stannard said in a statement: “They are all going to stick together and they have got this planned.
“They are trying to get back at us.”
He was convicted of four counts of child cruelty and six of indecent assault.
Valerie Stannard was convicted of eight counts of child cruelty.
The couple had denied all charges.
Judge Alastair Hammerton said: “The victim statements reveal the devastating impacts of your crimes.
“Valerie Stannard your ill treatment was often and severe, leaving marks on the children.
“You punished a boy by putting a newspaper down his pyjamas then lit it.
The victim statements reveal the devastating impacts of your crimes.
“You punished another boy by putting soap down his throat.
“He thought he was choking and was going to die.
“The evidence from a number of witnesses was that on at least one occasion you put a boy in an unlit cupboard while he was still in his high chair.
“Roy Stannard your ill treatment was also rather frequent and severe, including hitting a boy with a closed fist ‘like a man’.”