Children treated like servants’ claim

A woman told a jury today that her foster carer banged her head against a wall when she was a child and dragged her around the house by her hair.

A woman told a jury today that her foster carer banged her head against a wall when she was a child and dragged her around the house by her hair.

Elizabeth Roe, 64, who was approved by the then Norwich County Borough Council to care for vulnerable children during the 1970s and 1980s, treated the girl and other foster children “like servants” and made them do housework while she lay in bed, Norwich Crown Court heard.

Under cross-examination by Christopher Morgans, defending Roe, one of the alleged victims described how Roe had an intercom system from her bedroom to the kitchen and used it to order the children around while they did household chores.

“She would press it when she wanted another cup of tea or she would bang on the ceiling and we would fight about who would go up there,” said the woman.

“She'd ask us what we were doing and why we were messing around.”

The woman did not believe she had been given the opportunity to speak to social workers when they visited the house in Norwich.

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“She used to threaten me and said if you open your mouth I would get it when they were gone, so I couldn't even tell them what was wrong,” she said.

“I knew I wouldn't be believed because I was classed as a problem child.”

She admitted that she would steal food at school because she was not being fed, but had been falsely accused of taking crisps and chocolate bars at home.

“Years later she apologised and said 'I know it wasn't you', but the damage has been done now,” she said.

“She would bang my head against the wall until she thought I would say I had taken them, but I didn't take them.

“She pulled me up and down the stairs by my hair, dragged me around by my hair.”

Describing the morning routine, she said: “We would have to make her breakfast and take it up on a tray while she was lying in bed, watching TV. She wouldn't get up to get us off to school.

“After we were about five or six years old we were doing it for her, plus doing the housework and she was in bed.”

She said that whenever they discussed what happened years earlier, Roe had claimed it was “to do with her hysterectomy and HRT and she never meant for it to happen”.

Asked by Mr Morgans why she had sent Roe greetings cards to “the best mum in the world” and “a mum in a million” as recently as 2005, she said: “I just wanted my mum to love me and be like any other mum would be.

“I lived in a fantasy world because I wanted her to love me.”

The jury was later shown a walking stick with a spike on the end which another victim claimed was used by Roe for “mean and forceful” beatings against the children for not cleaning the floors properly.

Roe denies six counts of cruelty to six different girls under the age of 16.

The trial continues.