A woman who put three children through a ‘living hell’ that saw them beaten, burned and locked in cupboards has been jailed for a decade.

Elsie Wheddon, now 71, was in her 20s when she and then husband Stephen were responsible for the catalogue of abuse and vile neglect of the three children at their home in Oxfordshire.

As well as taking part in some of the physical violence meted out by her husband – who took his own life in February 2022 hours before he was due at court facing 60 separate sexual allegations – Elsie was said to have been aware of the sexual abuse that two girls suffered at Stephen’s hands.

One of the girls told Wheddon’s trial earlier this year that, when she was injured during one of Stephen’s rapes of her, the wife told him he could do it ‘no more’.

The victims told police and the jury of having ‘rat-like creatures’ run across their bodies, with one of the children saying the animals bit them.

READ MORE: Alleged sex abuser hanged himself hours before court appearance 

They were locked in cupboards, the third child - a boy - was burned with a lighter, and one of the girls’ heads was used as a mop to clean the floor after she wet herself.

One of the women, who reported the abuse after watching a similar storyline on Australian TV show Home and Away, described the year-long ordeal as a ‘living hell’.

She added: “It was like we was their personal punchbags. That’s what it feels like. I was their punchbag.”

The second victim of Stephen Wheddon’s alleged offending branded their stay at the couple’s home as ‘one big nightmare’.

The woman said Elsie Wheddon ‘must have known’ about the sexual abuse she suffered in her bedroom.

On one occasion after sexually abusing the girl, Stephen was said to have shouted in a panic for his wife. He repeated the words: “We have to get rid of it.”

The victim told detectives in her police interview: “She [Elsie Wheddon] put me in the bath but she was being nice to me.”

On another occasion, the woman described being ‘dunked’ in cold water by Elsie.

READ MORE: Prosecutors open case against woman accused of child cruelty

Wheddon, of Northend, Warwickshire, denied knowing about the sexual abuse carried out by her husband and denied physically abusing the children.

In February, she was found guilty of 13 counts of cruelty to a child under-16.

Oxford Mail: Elsie Wheddon outside Oxford Crown CourtElsie Wheddon outside Oxford Crown Court (Image: Oxford Mail)

On Monday (May 22), Recorder Stuart Trimmer KC jailed Wheddon for 10 years at Lewes Crown Court, sitting at Brighton Magistrates’ Court.

Welcoming the lengthy DC 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.

“Elsie Wheddon was cruel, violent and also allowed her then husband, to carry out sexual and physical abuse against the victims.”

She added: “I would like to thank the victims for their bravery in supporting our investigation and giving evidence against their abuser, and I hope that this case highlights that time will not be a barrier to justice being served.”