Following a thorough police investigation, a nasty couple who made children hunt for food scraps and compel youngsters to ingest soap has been found guilty in Teesside.
Over a period of years, County Durham residents Andrew Hadwin and Cheryl Pickles repeatedly physically and emotionally abused the kids. When one of the kids bravely confided what had occurred to her to a reliable adult in 2018, Durham Constabulary opened an investigation into their wrongdoing.
Detectives discovered that Hadwin and Pickles repeatedly mistreated the kids by making them eat soap, lock them in cupboards, force them into boiling hot showers and baths, sometimes submerging their heads under the water, and denying them food during the four-year investigation that included more than 150 witnesses.
The kids would frequently have to forage for food leftovers, and once at 4 am, they were discovered traveling by themselves to a shop four miles away in search of food.
The Bowburn couple would also place takeout orders and make the kids watch as they ate while hunched over in stressful positions. In addition to multiple counts of child maltreatment and sexual contact with a minor, Hadwin, 39, and Pickles, 35, were also accused of perverting the course of justice.
In addition, Hadwin was accused of three charges of rape in connection with the non-recent abuse of a different kid that took place when she was a young girl. Due to the pair’s denial of all allegations, the trial at Teesside Crown Court lasted seven weeks.
Medical specialists testified in court throughout the trial about the children’s repeated suffering of excruciating wounds, with one youngster suffering life-altering wounds as a result of the abuse.
They also learned how the couple pretended to be the children in letters that they gave to authorities, in which they apologized for lying, expressed regret, and falsely accused experts who were helping them by sexually assaulting them.
The letters were actually penned in a notebook that was discovered inside the couple’s Bowburn house, according to a handwriting expert who certified the writing was not that of a child.
Hadwin was convicted of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect, and one count of tampering with evidence after the jury deliberated for three days. He was cleared of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor.
Pickles was held responsible for perverting justice on one count and five charges of child abuse. She was cleared of engaging in sexual conduct with a minor.
The two were remanded in custody to be sentenced at the same court on Friday, April 28.
The investigation was overseen by Durham Constabulary Detective Inspector Tonya Cook. “This was a thorough and drawn-out inquiry, gathering information from partner agencies, professionals, and neighbors,” she said.
“This was a heartbreaking case in which the police, partners, and witnesses all displayed great levels of professionalism to see that these kids got justice.
It has also demonstrated Durham Constabulary’s dedication to maintaining community safety and to hearing children’s voices when they speak out against individuals in their immediate surroundings.
The investigating officer was Detective Constable Kat Pudney of the Durham Constabulary’s Safeguarding Unit.
“This was an incredibly difficult investigation for everyone concerned, the likes of which I have never faced in my tenure as a police officer,” she continued.
Hadwin and Pickles deprived a number of young, defenseless children of their childhood and likely left them with psychological wounds from which they may never fully heal.
“I want to draw attention to how extraordinarily brave these kids have been during this protracted investigation — their courage to confront their abusers deserves praise.
“One of Hadwin’s victims is a young woman who, in repeating her trauma many years afterward, has displayed remarkable bravery. Hope she takes some solace in the fact that her perpetrator has now been found guilty and sent behind bars.
“In an effort to deflect attention from themselves, Hadwin and Pickles have lied to police and other professionals and tried to place blame on others throughout this inquiry.
“I am happy that the jury reached these conclusions, preventing further youngsters from falling prey to their cunning and reprehensible behavior.
“I’m hoping that this outcome will enable the kids to finish this chapter of their lives and embark on their road to recovery.”
All children deserve to be safe, protected, and loved, she continued, so everyone should be concerned about ensuring their safety and wellness.
“Please speak up if you think a youngster is being abused or neglected; your actions could save a life.
“You can contact Durham Constabulary by dialing 101, or 999 in cases of immediate risk to life. Alternatively, calls to Crimestoppers at 0800 555 111 can be made absolutely anonymously.