The horrific case of a Portuguese mother found keeping a child “secret” in a filthy car boot for almost two years has finally reached court. The delay, explain reports, has been to allow medical experts to fully appreciate the devastating consequences on the little girl’s development.
Serena, now seven years old, still does not talk – emitting only sounds, explains Correio da Manhã.
After being rescued from a car boot filled with flies, larvae and dirty nappies, she slowly showed signs of recovering – but the damage was done. A pediatrician who observed her shortly after she was rescued in 2013 said she had seen rickets in the past, but “nothing like in this child”.
Mother Rosa Cruz, an emigré living with her husband and three children in France, is now charged with aggravated violence and child mistreatment.
Her husband has always claimed that he knew nothing of the fourth child living in his wife’s car – but the judge has said he will have to answer questions in court.
With the case opening this week and due to hear various specialists and family members, local media is reporting that Rosa Cruz could face up to 20 years behind bars.
But for reasons unclear, Cruz has been left caring for her other three children since her youngest daughter was discovered apparently by chance, during a routine MOT inspection (click here).
In a report over the weekend leading up to the trial’s opening, Correio da Manhã said Serena’s development ‘stagnated’ after the first two years.
She now walks and runs, but she “hates confined spaces” and appears to have developed a form of autism.
Forensic examination of Serena’s hair has revealed that she was heavily medicated during her confinement with substances that should not have been used on children of any age.
The child has been living with a foster family since being discharged from hospital.
It is a case that shocked the little area in France where the Cruz family live, with neighbours still apparently incredulous that a horror like this could have played out under their noses for almost two years.