Probation for Nigerian couple who beat children

Image caption, The couple claimed the assaults were normal Nigerian punishments

A Nigerian woman who broke a little girl's finger and left bruises all over her body after hitting her with sticks has been given a year's probation.

Comfort Eregbu, 37, and her husband Edmund, 51, from Glasgow, carried out regular beatings on the seven-year-old over a 16 month period.

Mr Eregbu was also put on probation for a year.

The couple also admitted assaulting a 10-year-old boy, in what they claimed were normal Nigerian punishments.

The offences came to light when the youngsters told teachers at their school.

Glasgow Sheriff Court heard that Mrs Eregbu, of Shettleston, also subjected another nine-year-old boy to the same sort of treatment while she looked after him.

At an earlier hearing she pleaded guilty to assaulting the three children, including fracturing the girl's thumb, between November 2007 and March 2009.

Her husband, a Nigerian lawyer, admitted assaulting the seven-year-old girl and ten-year-old boy during the same time.

The pair were originally charged with covering the children's bodies in pepper but prosecutors accepted their not guilty pleas to those charges.

Prosecutor Iain Bradley told the court that the couple came to the UK from Nigeria in January 2005.

The court heard that it was the young girl who first told teachers that she was being beaten by the Eregbus and showed them bruising on her right arm and thigh.

Mr Bradley said: "The girl spoke of regular beatings using belts, kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons and poles when she misbehaved."

The court was told that the girl had to have an operation to mend her broken thumb.

'Completely heartbroken'

After the seven-year-old reported the abuse, the other two boys admitted that they had suffered similar assaults.

Mr Bradley added: "It was evident that the couple preferred to follow what they asserted were Nigerian norms of punishment.

"It is accepted that the chastisement of children in Nigeria commonly follows the approach employed by the Eregbus."

Defence Advocate Paul Brown, representing Edmund Eregbu, told the court that his client was a "devoutly religious" man.

Mr Brown added: "The circumstances he now finds himself are a complete tragedy for him and he is completely heartbroken."

Mrs Eregbu's advocate Tony Lenehan added that his client was acting in a manner she had been shown as a child and thought she was doing right by the children.

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