A woman who made a child eat her own vomit during a year-long campaign of cruelty has had her jail term increased by judges at the UK Court of Appeal.
Lorna Dennington, 47, admitted repeatedly hitting three children in her care, by slapping them, punching one child on the nose and hitting another in the head with a cupboard door.
In his ruling, Lord Justice William Davis described an incident where one of the children, who was said to be around 15 or 16 at the time, had thrown up her dinner, adding: ‘Lorna Dennington made her pick up the vomit from the floor and eat it.’
The court heard how her husband Christopher Dennington, 51, spent around £1,000 of one child’s £59,000 trust fund that had been left to the boy after his father died.
Lord Justice William Davis said the boy who is now an adult had wanted to use the money to buy a house.
In a statement, he said: ‘I am gutted that the money left to me after my father’s death is gone … They have taken away my dreams by stealing the money.’
Lorna Dennington was jailed for 12 months at Teesside Crown Court after admitting three charges of child cruelty.
Her husband Christopher Dennington, 51, was also jailed for 12 months for the child cruelty offences and one count of fraud.
Both offenders appeared at the hearing in London via video link on Thursday, with Lorna Dennington held at HMP Low Newton and her husband in custody at Holme House prison.
Lorna Dennington told the court she was overwhelmed by the responsibility of looking after multiple children.
Lord Justice William Davis, sitting with Mr Justice Murray and Judge Philip Katz KC, found that the sentencing judge had given the couple too much of a reduction on their sentences for the guilty pleas at the start of their trial.
‘There was no proper basis to depart from the guideline,’ he said, adding they were ‘wholly unreasonable’ sentences.
The judge noted that the cruelty inflicted on the children often took place in front of others.
‘This fact led each victim to a sense of hopelessness – each saw no escape from the dreadful home life to which they were exposed,’ Lord Justice William Davis said.
He concluded that the sentencing judge had fallen into ‘gross error’ with the sentences, quashing the original terms as unduly lenient.