A ‘sadistic’ woman who took tortured and physically abused children in a campaign of brutality has been sentenced today to 15 years in prison.
Cheryl Pickles, 35, took ‘full part’ in the horrific abuse of youths along with her partner Andrew Hadwin, 39.
Judge Timothy Stead, who delivered his verdict at Teesside Crown Court, said the ‘cruelty lasted for many months and took place in a variety of ways’.
He said she committed “multiple incidents of serious cruelty” and treated child victims “sadistically.”
Telling her, “You are emotionless and have shown no empathy or remorse.”
Cheryl Pickles, 35, along with her partner “fully participated” in the horrific abuse of the children
Andrew Hadwin and Cheryl Pickles. Hadwin, 39, was found dead in his cell in February
Hadwin was found dead in his prison cell awaiting sentence. His cause of death has yet to be determined.
In the trial against Pickles and Hadwin, it was told how he was reported to the police in 2015 for sexually assaulting a girl.
After an investigation involving police and social services, he was released without charge and committed heinous crimes of torture and physical abuse against other child victims.
After deciding not to prosecute, Hadwin began a relationship with Pickles.
The pair were partners-in-crime for the later campaign of abuse.
The pair tormented children by starving them, giving them soap and rinsing their mouths with shampoo, forcing them to take scalding hot showers and pouring icy water over their heads, locking them in a cupboard and putting them in’ stress’ positions, such as squatting. or balancing on one leg for hours on end.
One child was even held underwater in the bath by Pickles to the point that it turned blue.
In 2018, a second police investigation was launched by Durham Police which eventually led to the pair being brought to justice and Hadwin also convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his first victim.
Their seven-week trial at Teesside Crown Court ended with Hadwin found guilty of rape, child abuse and perverting the course of justice. Pickles was convicted of child abuse and perverting the course of justice.
Hadwin was then found dead in his prison cell at HMP Durham. An initial autopsy failed to reveal the cause of death.
A jury found Hadwin guilty after a seven-week trial at Teesside Crown Court
Today, the proceedings against him were formally stayed while Pickles stood alone in Teesside Court.
Miss Richardson said Pickles had no previous convictions and was not involved in social services before starting a relationship with Hadwin.
She accepted that she “wouldn’t have offended” had she not met Hadwin.
However, the evidence showed that she was not under the control of her partner and “participated fully” in the beatings and abuse.
The judge even said she sometimes took the lead, remarking about her role: “Sometimes more than fully involved in what was happening.”
Miss Richardson said Pickles was “anxious and willing to protect Hadwin” from authorities and lied about their relationship with the police.
Miss Richardson outlined the crimes for which Pickles and Hadwin were convicted and said the young child victims were subjected to ‘sadistic’ behaviour.
A child put under scalding hot showers was treated for hand burns and standing in a ‘stress position’ for long periods of time had lasting effects on the child, the court heard.
Another suffered from fear of water after being submerged in baths and now has epileptic seizures. The child’s current caregiver commented, “We believe the trauma suffered will have a lifelong impact.”
Hadwin beat children with his belt and a stick he walked with was another weapon. One victim still suffers nightmares about the sound of the crutch on the floor indicating he was approaching to inflict mischief.
The children were deprived of food, clothes and toys.
Hadwin and his partner Cheryl Pickles (pictured) tormented children for years
They had so little to eat that two of them set out in the early hours to find food and crossed a road in their night clothes on their way to a supermarket before luckily the police intervened.
To add to their misery, both Pickles and Hadwin “spent large sums of money on takeaways and eat them in front of them,” she said.
She said they were also “brainwashed” to avoid reporting the incidents to police.
And all victims would “need lifelong support.”
Alison Foster, a counseling psychologist, said they were at high risk for suicide and self-harm.
The offenses of perverting the course of justice related to the defendants producing forged letters which they claimed were written by a child who admitted to lying about them and apologizing.
Tony Davis, on behalf of Pickles, told the judge it was clear Hadwin was a “manipulative and controlling individual.”
“She fell in love with the wrong person,” he said.
A woman who was raped and abused by Hadwin as a child revealed she cried “happy tears” when she learned of his death.
The girl, whose name cannot be mentioned, first reported Hadwin to the police in 2015 for serious sexual abuse. In a statement read at Teesside Crown Court, she said she felt she had been “labeled a liar by police and social services”.
At the time, the Public Prosecution Service decided not to take action against Hadwin, who subsequently committed a campaign of cruelty and abuse against other children.
The rape victim spoke to police again in 2019 when a new investigation was launched by Durham Police that eventually led to Hadwin’s conviction.
In her statement, she said she “felt guilty” and felt that “if (she) had spoken up more and proven herself better,” the abuse of other children could have been prevented.
“It broke my heart to know that other kids were hurt too,” she said, adding that she believed “it was my fault for being too scared.”
She said she felt “relief” that her nine-year ordeal was over, commenting, “Today I am stronger than ever.”
In a message to her dead abuser, she continued, “I can rest knowing that you can never hurt anyone again. I’m available.’
Judge Timothy Stead described the brave victim’s statement as “extraordinary” and said it would elicit “deep sympathy” for anyone who listened.
He said, “She shouldn’t blame herself for anything that happened to her or anyone else.”
Add: “The blame lies with Andrew Hadwin who was an evil and cruel man.”
The judge has formally stayed the proceedings against Hadwin.
An initial autopsy on Hadwin revealed no cause of death and more tests have been performed. An inquest into his death will be held at a later date.
Pickles was found guilty of five counts of child abuse and one of perverting the course of justice. She was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.