Three victims of a sadistic foster mum who forced them to eat their own vomit and rammed sticks down their throats have spoken out together for the first time since she was released from prison.
Alloma Gilbert, 29, Victoria Spry, 28, and Christopher Spry, 26, endured two decades of torture by their foster mother, Eunice Spry, then 70.
When she was jailed in 2007 for 14 years, the trio finally felt safe. However, she was released after serving only half her sentence.
The children, who have not disclosed their current location for safety reasons, formed a strong bond with one another to help them survive the horrendous abuse.
When Alloma and Christopher, who are brother and sister, and Victoria were first fostered by Eunice Spry in 1991, they were welcomed into her home.
Alloma, now a housewife, said: “She seemed really warm. Warm enough for me to sit on her lap and feel comfortable.”
But it quickly became clear Spry favoured her biological daughter Judith and adopted daughter Charlotte.
Victoria said: “They had their own bedrooms, they were fed better food. And I was being treated as if I wasn’t a person, I had no right.”
Within months, Spry began to inflict beatings on the trio and told them they were the devil’s children.
Christopher said: “She thought I was demonised or I was working in Satan’s name and that we were the devil’s offspring. That’s really hard to comprehend when you’re six. To have to question your own sanity as a young kid is horrific.”
Spry would invent reasons to discipline them.
Victoria said: “She bought some shopping into the kitchen and she’d got various cat food and dog food, soups and baked beans. I was a little toddler and I took all the labels off as little ones do. She just went mad. She said she could no longer see what was in what can. She said you pick a can and whatever’s in it, you eat it. I was put in the high chair, I was tied down and it was cat food. I was a little tiny baby and I was retching and crying. I’d sick it back up and she’d make me eat the sick up. She always had to have the upper hand. That was my first real memory.”
The beatings became more regular and Spry separated the children away from anyone who could alert the authorities. She banned them from speaking with other children and even waited outside the school gates at lunch time to make sure her orders were obeyed.
In 1994, when teachers became suspicious of the children’s cuts and bruises, Spry pulled them out of school.
The abuse now became constant throughout the day.
In 1996, she moved the family to an isolated farm in Eckington, Derbyshire. In their new home, the trio were forced to sleep in cold, rat-infested barns.
Christopher said: “It had no electric, no water, we had to use a hose pipe to try and clean ourselves. There was very little food and I used to eat chicken pellets to try and survive.”
The children were continually denied any meals.
Victoria said: “I lived half my childhood fantasising about eating food. If she could clearly see we’d eaten something she would make us vomit in front of her.”
One of Spry’s cruellest punishments was to ram sticks down the back of the children’s throats, leaving them unable to swallow afterwards.
Alloma said: “She would put it down the backs of our throats and twist the stick so it cut the back of your throat. It was excruciating, but I did learn to switch off. You’d concentrate on the crack in the ceiling and take your mind to a different place. It was so painful that you did just shut down. We were like dummies and you just didn’t really fight back.”
As the children were worn down by fear and starvation, the abuse became more brutal.
In September 2000, Spry’s daughter’s, Judith, 37, and Charlotte, 16, were killed in acar pile-up on the way back from a family holiday.
Miss Spry had been in the car alongside them, but survived with multiple broken bones and internal injuries.
Christopher and Alloma had been in a separate vehicle with Spry’s parents. They’d raised some suspicions about the abuse but had not realised quite how serious things had become.
Spry conducted a string of media interviews from hospital where she appeared every inch the doting mother.
But behind closed doors, she punished the children for surviving the crash that killed her biological and adopted daughters calling them “scum.”
As Victoria began to recover, surgeons estimated she would walk again within three months.
But Spry forced her to remain wheelchair-bound for four years, warning her not to co-operate with physiotherapists that tried to encourage her in a cynical bid to maximise the disability living payments she received.
Victoria said: “At home, if she ever saw me get up and try and walk she would take the feet pieces off my wheelchair and she’d slam them into my shins. I wanted to walk but I couldn’t. I was frightened to.”
In 2004, Victoria plucked up the courage to confess the cruelty to a Jehovah’s Witness that asked about deep welts on her head from Spry sandpapering her face .
Alloma had already escaped the house in 2005, but Mr Spry was still living with his abuser.
Christopher said: “At first, Eunice had always told us that if the police came to get us it would be because they don’t like Jehovah’s Witnesses. Even though I was 16 at the time I was sticking to this plan and we denied everything. We knew no different. There wasn’t anything else but Eunice in my life.”
He was persuaded to return for a second police interview the next day, where he revealed all about the 18 years of barbaric abuse.
He said: “Officers were tearing up and that was a strange reaction because to us it was normal. We were just describing day-to-day life and they were sat there crying.”
In March 2007, Spry was jailed for 14 years for 26 offences including unlawful wounding, cruelty to a person under 16, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, perverting the course of justice and witness intimidation.
Now adults, Alloma and Christopher are beginning to piece their lives back together.
Alloma said: “Life is great, I’ve got a new baby, a loving partner and my 10-year-old daughter. Life just bumbles along normally how it should be. Finally, I have some normality.”
Christopher wants to gain the qualifications he missed out on.
He said: “I’ve had the world taken away from me and then I’ve been given a second chance. I have a list of things I want to do. I don’t want to jump out of planes, I don’t want to do a parachute jump, I don’t want any of that. I just want to do things that the average child got to do. I want to take my GCSE’s, I want a chance at going to university. I want to watch cartoons, catch up on the millions of films I’ve missed out on. These are things that normal kids take for granted. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do but I’m enjoying the challenge.”