A mother from the NSW Hunter region who failed to get help for her dying toddler has been jailed for a maximum five years, with a judge finding there was no remorse.
On June 19, 2018, the 20-month-old girl died from multiple injuries, including bleeding and swelling on the brain, haemorrhaging to both eyes, six broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
The girl’s mother – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was found guilty of manslaughter earlier in 2021.
A jury accepted the prosecution’s case that the woman had failed to seek medical care for her daughter’s injuries, which had been inflicted by her new partner.
A forensic pathologist told the court the little girl’s injuries resembled that of a car crash victim or a child that had fallen from a multistorey building.
The mother had argued she had been abused online and in shops and was suffering because of that.
But, in sentencing, Judge Tim Gartelmann SC said the woman had shown no remorse.
“The offender expressed anguish over [her] daughter’s death and its ramifications,” the judge said.
“She has acknowledged consequences of this offence, but she has never ever accepted responsibility for it.
“No finding of remorse is warranted.”
Concern over FACS involvement
Judge Gartelmann said the woman did not call an ambulance for four-and-a-half hours after her daughter was injured.
The judge said had the mother called emergency services earlier, her daughter could have survived.
“Her daughter may have lived if she had sought medical help, at least earlier in the afternoon,” Judge Gartelmann said.
“She should have sought it earlier in the afternoon, given the circumstances she then knew.
“She had heard [a] loud bang between 12.15 to 12.20 and thought her daughter had a head injury, she observed her being pale, floppy and lifeless and her eyes were rolling back in her head.”
Judge Gartelmann suggested the woman may not have called for help due to prior dealings with Families and Community Services.
“Observations must have caused her significant alarm,” the judge said.
“She must’ve realised her condition was serious even if she didn’t know it was grave.
“A motive for inaction was concern regarding FACS’ involvement.”
Mother receives discounted sentence
Judge Gartelmann gave the woman a 20 per cent discount on her sentence due to the evidence she gave that helped convict her co-accused, Timothy Andrew Whiteley.
He was found guilty of murder and is serving a maximum 35-year jail term.
That discount also took into account the woman’s mental health problems.
Judge Gartelmann sentenced her to five years’ jail, with a two-and-a-half-year non-parole period.
She will be eligible for release in December 2023.
Family violence support services:
1800 Respect national helpline 1800 737 732
Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491
Lifeline (24-hour crisis line) 131 114