Mother jailed for cruel abuse of ‘Cinderella’ stepdaughter
Girl forced to eat chilli powder and drink vinegar
Bridget Kenneally (49), of Duncoran, Youghal, Co Cork was jailed for two years for abusing stepdaughter Cora Desmond. Photo: Cork Courts
November 17 2020 05:30 PM
A MOTHER was jailed for two years for a campaign of cruelty waged against her stepdaughter, who was forced to eat chilli powder, drink vinegar, deprived of her play friends and even beaten with a poker.
Bridget Kenneally (49) even mocked her stepdaughter, Cora Desmond (21), during punishments while she was a child by calling her “Cora-Ella” in reference to the story of Cinderella.
The part-time cleaner of Duncoran, Youghal, Co Cork was jailed at Cork Circuit Criminal Court after she admitted a charge of assault against Cora Desmond.
The assault happened at Kenny’s Lane in the east Cork seaside town between October 1 and 31, 2009.
Ms Desmond urged others who are facing similar cruelty to have the courage to come forward and contact gardaí and the authorities.
Kenneally was jailed for two years after Judge Sean O’Donnabháin was told that while she had offered €5,000 in compensation, she had exhibited little or no remorse for her actions.
Cora Desmond from Youghal, Co. Cork pictured at Cork circuit court. Pic Daragh Mc SweeneyCork Courts Limited
She admitted a single count of assault against her stepdaughter. However, the sentence was imposed taking into consideration the entire background to the case.
In an emotional victim impact statement, Ms Desmond outlined what she had endured for 10 years until she was 16.
When she was five her father entered into a relationship with the defendant.
Initially, Kenneally seemed “nice and caring” but this honeymoon period did not last long.
“About six months into the 11-year relationship the horrific abuse began with a few slaps and punches but then gradually got worse.
“Throughout the years it became clear to me that I was nothing but a punching bag to Bridget,” she said.
“Bridget gave me the name ‘Cora-Ella’ and told me I was just like Cinderella because I was the one who was not wanted or loved.”
Ms Desmond said she lived a double life for 11 years, feeling trapped at home and waiting for the next beating or punishment.
“For 11 years she told me no one would believe me if I spoke out regarding the vile, sadistic, physical and mental torture she subjected me to,” Ms Desmond said.
“I was made to lie about my injuries and tell people I was just a clumsy child.
“One of the many lies I had to tell was how I broke my thumb. She twisted my hand so much that it actually snapped the bone.”
Ms Desmond, who now works in a supermarket, paid tribute to the gardaí for the sensitivity they had shown her when she came forward to outline how her childhood had involved mental and physical torture.
“One of the recurring daily punishments [was] she would feed me excessive amounts of salt, pepper, mustard, chilli powder and vinegar.
“There were constant verbal threats that she would kill me if I ever told anyone of the abuse I endured.”
Judge O’Donnabháin said it was a case of continued brutality, systemic abuse and cruelty with Ms Desmond effectively robbed of her childhood.