Foster carer denies abuse claims

A veteran foster carer approved by Norfolk Social Services bullied, abused and was “deliberately cruel” to children in her care, a court heard yesterday.

A veteran foster carer approved by Norfolk Social Services bullied, abused and was "deliberately cruel" to children in her care, a court heard yesterday.

Elizabeth Roe, 64, cared for a number of vulnerable youngsters in the 1970s and 1980s, Norwich Crown Court was told.

Stephen Spence, prosecuting, told the court that Roe portrayed herself as a "God-fearing, respectable figure".

But he said behind closed doors she was "deliberately cruel" to the children, regularly beating them with anything that came to hand.

The court heard the alleged catalogue of abuse included Roe keeping the children short of food, making them "virtual slaves" by performing household chores, and starving them of affection.

Mr Spence told the jury that neighbours "heard and saw things" and one voiced concerns to social services after hearing "shouting and yelling".

Most Read

But he said Roe managed to "sweet-talk her way out of any trouble that may have been brewing".

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

All the alleged victims are now adults, and only recently came forward to make their complaints against the Norfolk Social Services-approved foster carer.

One woman described how she was hit with whatever Roe could lay her hands on.

She told the jury that Roe was lazy and made the children do the work around the house.

The court also heard Roe would wake the children in the early hours of the morning to redo household tasks that she claimed had not been completed properly.

"If we didn't jump high enough or quickly enough some sort of violence would be carried out,' the woman told the court.

"I quite frequently went to school with marks on my arm from being hit with a brush. Whatever she could lay her hands on she would use against us.'

The woman said that while she and other children went hungry, Roe had "goodies" locked away in cupboards for herself.

The woman also described how she suffered from incontinence as a child and was once made to sit in a bath of cold water as a form of punishment, when she was about five or six years old.

While sitting in the bath, she said Roe stabbed her in the leg with a vegetable knife, which left a scar.

She also remembered being made to stand out in the snow in her pyjamas with no shoes on as a punishment.

She told the jury she did not say anything at the time because she did not know better.

"I just thought this was normal,' she said.

"It made me angry once I realised what a proper childhood should be like.'

She said children taken into care were supposed to be placed in a safe environment but she said: "To me they were in a worse environment to where they were originally."

Another woman told the court how Roe kept her short of food and as a punishment would make her stay in her room.

She said she was once so hungry she ate some toilet paper.

She also claimed Roe would wake her up in the middle of the night if she felt household chores had not been done well enough.

"She woke us up in the middle of the night if she thought the floor was not swept or worktops not wiped down."

She added: "A lot of the time during school holidays we would be doing housework."

The trial, which is expected to last about two weeks, continues today.