Jail for woman who abused young girls

A WOMAN who subjected two young girls to three years of "cruel" and "traumatic" abuse, including hitting them with a belt and flushing their heads down a toilet, was yesterday jailed for 15 months.

Relatives of the children wept as Sheena Paterson, 48, was led away from court.

Paterson stared impassively ahead as Sheriff Derrick McIntyre told her: "The abuse has had a traumatic effect on these young children, and goodness knows what long-term psychological damage may have been done to them.

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"You are a first-offender, but such is the nature of this offence it is only appropriate that a custodial sentence be imposed."

The court heard that, during an interview, the older child said that Paterson dunked their heads under water for seven seconds at a time and that the water was cold.

Fiscal depute Melanie Ward said Paterson forced the youngsters heads down a toilet and she would flush it.

Ms Ward said: "There were also times when both children had their heads struck against a wall.

"The older child had a pillow or cushion placed over her face and threats to kill her were made by Paterson."

Paterson, of Oxgangs Farm Drive, Edinburgh, admitted attacking the children between 29 March, 2004, and 28 May, 2007, at an address in the city.

Defence agent Stephen Knowles said Paterson was a troubled individual who had been abused as a child.

Sheriff McIntyre said he had reduced Paterson's sentence from 18 months to reflect her early guilty plea. He also ordered her to be on a supervised release order for seven months after she has served her jail sentence.