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Neighbours tell of victim's struggle

PUBLISHED: 18:04 08 June 2002 | UPDATED: 12:04 03 March 2010

By Amanda Cresswell

Amanda.cresswell@eveningstar.co.uk



BATTERED pensioner Irene Thorpe was forced to beg neighbours for cash and rummage for potatoes in gardens to feed herself, while she cooked proper meals for her abusive son.

By Amanda Cresswell

Amanda.cresswell@eveningstar.co.uk

BATTERED pensioner Irene Thorpe was forced to beg neighbours for cash and rummage for potatoes in gardens to feed herself, while she cooked proper meals for her abusive son.

During the years of torment she suffered at the hands of her Jekyll and Hyde son, caring neighbours who heard her screams repeatedly tried to persuade the frail 68-year-old to alert police.

Kind neighbours of Pembroke Close even offered to help decorate her home because they knew Irene didn't have the cash.

After enduring a years of abuse from her violent son, Christopher is now serving 30 months behind bars after pleading guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to causing actual bodily harm.

But neighbours say the sentence is not long enough. "He is sick," said mum of three Sharon Adams who lives opposite Irene in Pembroke Close. "He needs help."

Ms Adams, who took Irene to hospital and alerted social services after the latest beating, said:

"The beatings have gone on for as long as I've been here, which is 12 years. I first started hearing things from the neighbours. Then I started noticing it for myself and befriended her.

"In the past he would hit her where you couldn't see it. But you could tell by the way she walked she was hurt.

"Then she started to have facial injuries - cuts under her eyes, bleeding noses, lumps on her head…everything.

"Her next-door neighbour could hear her screams. I have had Irene in this house and her house and tried to tell her she is doing no favours by protecting him.

"I have called police time and time again but we were told it had to come from her.

"He would shout "you won't get me this time" as soon as police had gone. We tried for years to persuade her to tell police.

"The neighbours all promised her if she does something we would help with her decorating her house and stand by her. She says he's all she's got because she lost her two daughters.

"This was the last straw. This time it nearly killed her. She didn't recover quite as quickly from this lot (of injuries) as before.

"But this time it was so serious doctors said if it they hadn't have got her in (hospital) it would have been a different story because her injuries were so severe."

Ms Adams described Thorpe as a Jekyll and Hyde character who would cry if neighbours shouted at him.

Instead of walking out the door he would sneak out the back of the house for fear of bumping into anyone.

"It is as if he had two personalities. He could be so meek and mild. But he was a woose really. But he knew he has got power over his mum because she loves him."

He had such a hold over his mother he used to send her to work to earn money for him.

"Irene even had severe abscess in her legs," said Ms Adams. "She was supposed to get them dressed. But she neglected them because she worked as a cleaner to give him money.

"He would send her out on missions to sell things. She even used to steal from gardens for food," said the 44-year-old.

"She was always coming round for money. I used give it to her because she used to get beaten. But as you can imagine it all adds up and so in the end I used to give her food instead."

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