Couples facing jail time for torturing children by starving them have also forged letters from victims

A couple who tormented children by starving them, giving them soap and forcing them into scalding hot showers have been found guilty of multiple counts of child molestation.

Cheryl Pickles, 35, and Andrew Hadwin, 39, malnourished the children until they were so hungry they walked four miles to search supermarket bins at 4am.

When the youths eventually reported the abuse to a trusted adult, who raised the matter with the police, Hadwin and Pickles panicked and forged letters they claimed to have been written by children.

The letters, written in childish scribble, said, “We’re sorry, we told lies,” and went on to explain that they fabricated the allegations against the couple.

Cheryl Pickles, 35, and Andrew Hadwin, 39, of Fishburn, County Durham, tortured children by starving them, feeding them soap and forcing them into scalding hot showers

Cheryl Pickles, 35, and Andrew Hadwin, 39, of Fishburn, County Durham, tortured children by starving them, feeding them soap and forcing them into scalding hot showers

The couple were convicted after a lengthy trial by a jury at Teesside Crown Court of a protracted campaign of child abuse

The couple were convicted after a lengthy trial by a jury at Teesside Crown Court of a protracted campaign of child abuse

The letters were then exposed as forgeries by a handwriting expert.

Hadwin and Pickles, of Fishburn, County Durham, were convicted after a protracted trial by a jury at Teesside Crown Court of a protracted child molestation campaign.

During the trial, jurors heard about the couple’s horrific campaign of abuse, including hanging a terrified child over a highway bridge.

They face conviction in April and have been told they face lengthy prison terms.

The abuse came to light in 2018 when one of the children bravely revealed what happened to a trusted adult. An investigation by Durham Constabulary was launched.

During the investigation, which spanned four years and involved more than 150 witnesses, detectives found that Hadwin and Pickles repeatedly abused the children, forcing them to eat soap, locking them in cupboards, and boiling them forced hot showers and baths – sometimes with submerging their heads in the water – and denied access to food.

The children often had to search for scraps of food and were once found at 4 a.m. looking for food alone at a supermarket four miles away.

Cheryl Pickles was found guilty of five counts of child abuse and one perversion of justice. She was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child

Cheryl Pickles was found guilty of five counts of child abuse and one perversion of justice. She was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child

Hadwin was convicted of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect, and one count of perverting the law. He was found not guilty because of one sexual activity with a child

Hadwin was convicted of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect, and one count of perverting the law. He was found not guilty because of one sexual activity with a child

At Teesside Crown Court, the couple were found guilty of multiple abuse and were warned they face long prison sentences ahead of their sentencing on April 28

At Teesside Crown Court, the couple were found guilty of multiple abuse and were warned they face long prison sentences ahead of their sentencing on April 28

‘THEY WERE SCARY’: NEIGHBORS SHARE HORROR ABOUT COUPLE’S ABUSE CAMPAIGN

The couple's home in Fishburn

The couple’s home in Fishburn

Andrew Hadwin and Cheryl Pickles lived in a ramshackle townhouse in Fishburn, County Durham, although the abuse took place elsewhere.

Neighbors described the couple as “creepy” and said they scurried in and out of the property “like mice” and lived behind drawn curtains.

Hadwin was a known sex offender, and mothers would bring their children in from playing in their front yards while he smoked out of a bedroom window.

A neighbor said: “He was known to be a sex offender, which worried all families here with young children.

“They must have lived here for five years, but as far as anyone knew there were never any children in the house.

“The details of the case are chilling and the thought that the couple had access to children is terrifying.

“They were creepy and stealthy, they would scurry to and from their car in the morning, go away for the day and then come back at night, no one knew where they were going.

“All sorts of strange noises were coming from their house and they had a steady stream of strange looking visitors. I’m afraid to imagine what was going on there.”

Another neighbor said: ‘[Hadwin] walked with a white cane as if he were blind registered and would use it to get to his car and then drive away with it.

“The police were frequent visitors and people knew about his past. I hope they stay locked up for a long, long time. We never want to see her here again.”

The couple also ordered takeaways and let the kids watch them eat while they were forced to stand in stressful positions for long periods of time.

Hadwin and Pickles were charged with multiple counts of child neglect and sexual activity with a child, as well as interfering with the legal process.

Hadwin was also charged with three counts of rape in connection with the abuse of another child, which took place recently when she was a girl. The couple denied all charges, leading to a seven-week trial at Teesside Crown Court.

During the trial, the court heard from medical experts who described how the children suffered painful injuries on a regular basis. A child suffered life-threatening injuries as a result of the abuse.

They also heard the couple write letters which were handed over to police, claiming to be from the children, apologizing for their lies and feeling sorry for themselves, and making false claims of sexual assault by professionals who they supported.

However, a handwriting expert confirmed that the handwriting was not that of a child, noting that the letters had actually been written in a notebook found at the couple’s home.

After three days of deliberations, the jury found Hadwin guilty of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect and one count of perversion of justice. He was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.

Pickles was found guilty of five counts of child abuse and one count of perverting justice. She was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.

The couple were remanded in custody to be sentenced in the same court on Friday April 28.

Following the verdict, Detective Inspector Tonya Cook, who led the investigation, said: “This has been a distressing case in which all witnesses, partners and the police have shown a high level of professionalism in ensuring that justice is done for these children.

“It has also demonstrated Durham Constabulary’s commitment to keeping people in our communities safe and hearing the voices of children fully when they speak out against those around them.”

Detective Constable Kat Pudney of Durham Constabulary’s Safeguarding Unit, the investigating officer, said: “This has been an extremely complex and stressful investigation for everyone involved, the likes of which I have never experienced in my time as a police officer.

“Hadwin and Pickles subjected several vulnerable children to various forms of abuse, depriving them of their childhood and undoubtedly leaving them with psychological wounds from which they may never truly recover.

“I would like to highlight how incredibly brave these children have been throughout this lengthy investigation – their strength in standing up to their abusers must be commended.

“One of Hadwin’s victims is now a young woman. She showed incredible courage reliving her ordeal many years later. I hope she finds some comfort in the fact that her attacker has now been convicted and remanded in custody.

“Hadwin and Pickles lied to police and other professionals and during this investigation attempted to blame others in order to divert attention from themselves.

“I am pleased that the jury reached these verdicts and ultimately saved more children from becoming victims of their manipulative and obnoxious behavior.

“I hope this outcome will allow the children to close this chapter in their lives and begin their healing journey.”

She added: “The protection and well-being of children is everyone’s business – all children deserve to be safe, protected and loved.

“If you suspect a child is being abused or neglected, please speak up. Your actions could save lives.”

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11652805/Couple-face-jail-torturing-children-starving-pushing-boiling-showers.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Couples facing jail time for torturing children by starving them have also forged letters from victims

Bradford Betz

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