An 11-year-old boy who was allegedly raped and sexually abused by family members has told the Central Criminal Court he and his sister received messages while they were in foster care together telling them to run away.
The boy was being cross examined by defence lawyers in the trial of seven people who are accused of the sexual abuse of three children between 2014 and 2016.
The cross examination followed yesterday's viewing by the jury of interviews carried out in 2017 when he was eight-years-old.
In the recorded interviews he described being raped by his father and two uncles and sexually assaulted by his mother and an aunt.
Today, he was asked by Conor Deveally SC, defence counsel for one of his uncles, why he had not mentioned the uncle in his first recorded Garda interview. The boy replied that it was probably because he did not think about it in his first interview.
He agreed that he had started writing in a book around that time which he had with him in his second recorded interview. He said it was his foster mother's idea to start writing in the book. He said he had written what was in the book but may have got help from his nine-year-old sister with some of the words.
He was asked about text messages his sister received while they were together in foster care around the time they were giving statements to gardaí.
He said his brother, who was 11 at the time, had messaged his sister to tell her to run away on a particular day. He said his older brother had run away after being told by an uncle to do so and had been found in a field by that uncle and given pills to make him go to sleep in the car. He said his sister told him about this.
He said: "[his brother] sent a message to [his sister] on the tablet to run away and then I think [his brother] ran away and I think [his uncle] found him in a field and then he gave him some pills to make him go asleep in the car and [his sister] was going to run away on Tuesday and I was told to run away on Wednesday or Thursday."
He said his uncle had sent a message to his brother to run away to some field and that he would find him there, adding: "I think he gave him pills to make him fall asleep."
Asked how he knew about this, he said his sister had received a message from his brother and had told him about it.
He also told Mr Devally today that his parents gave him and his younger brothers pills to make them go to sleep at night. He said this happened every second night. He and his younger brothers were supposed to go to bed at 7pm while his older brother and sister stayed up later. He said sometimes they would be "still awake" and were given pills to make them go to sleep.
He also told the court that things he said about his father in garda interviews in 2017 "did happen".
Under cross-examination, Mark Nicholas SC, counsel for the boy's father, told the boy his father had told gardaí that the things he alleged never happened. The boy replied: "No they did happen".
Earlier, he agreed with Mr Nicholas that memories of what he spoke about in the recorded interviews were "fuzzy memories".
He was also asked about looking at pictures of naked people on the internet and said he had been shown them by his brother. He agreed that after he went into foster care he had a tablet device but could not remember if he had managed to take a lock off it.
In cross-examination by Dean Kelly SC, counsel for the boy’s mother, he replied "yes" when asked if memories were fuzzy when trying to remember something that happened when he was very small.
During cross-examination by Seamus Clarke, Senior Counsel for one of his aunts, who is charged with sexual exploitation, the boy was asked if he could have made a mistake when he told gardaí his aunt had told him to "do sex" with his sister. He replied "eh, probably".
During re-examination by prosecuting counsel Eilis Brennan the boy said he had a memory of that happening and confirmed that was his memory.
At the outset of the cross-examination which took place by video link from the child’s home county, the trial judge, Mr Justice Paul McDermott, told the jury the questioning would follow guidelines set down by the court.
The age and capacity of the particular child witness had to be taken into account and advice taken from an intermediary who is present in the room to assist, he said.
Seven people including the boy’s parents, grandmother, aunts and uncles between them face a total of 91 charges relating to three children. The charges include rape, sexual assault and sexual exploitation on dates between August 2014 and April 2016.
The parents also face charges of neglecting five of their children. All seven defendants deny the charges.