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Pensioner who let rats crawl over children and bite them is jailed

Elsie Wheddon was jailed for 13 counts of cruelty against three children in Oxfordshire almost 50 years ago. (SWNS)
Elsie Wheddon was jailed for 13 counts of cruelty against three children in Oxfordshire almost 50 years ago. (SWNS)

A pensioner has been jailed for 10 years after using a victim's hair to mop up urine, and letting rats run over three children in her care and bite them.

Elsie Wheddon, 71, of Northend, Warwickshire, was jailed for 13 counts of child neglect on Monday at Brighton Magistrates' Court.

She was convicted by a jury in February of cruelty against three children in Oxfordshire almost 50 years ago.

The children - two girls and one boy - were said to have been locked in cupboards, had "rat-like creatures" run over their bodies, threatened with her husband's guns, and beaten with a belt.

The trial heard that she allowed the animals to run over the children and bite them, would beat them, and locked them in an attic.

She also allowed her husband Stephen Wheddon to sexually assault the female victims on a number of occasions.

He was charged with a number of sexual offences, but took his own life before a trial could proceed.

Elsie Wheddon was jailed at Brighton Magistrates Court after being found guilty by jury at an earlier trial at Oxford Crown Court. (Getty)
Elsie Wheddon was jailed at Brighton Magistrates Court after being found guilty by jury at an earlier trial at Oxford Crown Court. (Getty)

The court heard that the Wheddons' young victims were also subjected to other abuse. On one occasion, she grabbed one victim and used their hair to mop up urine, then submerged her in a freezing bath, holding her under the water.

She also allowed Stephen Wheddon to burn one victim with a lighter.

During the trial, a written account from one of the victims was read out. It said: "It was just like living in a horror movie.

"I did not know what was going on. I quite often used to wet myself on purpose.

"I was always locked in the bedroom. I was very nervous, the hitting became more regular. I got hit every day.

"The door was bolted - I would just curl up in a ball and hope I would be rescued."

The woman, who can not be named for legal reasons, said she was made to strip and run up and down the hallway while being hit.

"It became just fun to them," she added.

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"They used to get their children to hit me as well."

In one incident she had written about, she added: "I had just had a bath and was shouting, crying and shaking. I knew I was about to get a beating.

"(Wheddon) grabbed my hair and started to mop the floor with it where I had wet myself. She wiped my face with it and threw me into a bath, put me under water.

"I was fighting back but it was no use. She was ducking me under the water and holding me there. My whole body went limp."

Investigating officer Detective Constable Phillipa Metcalfe said: “This case can only be described as truly horrific and what the children were put through was quite clearly an absolute hell."