AN Adelaide mother whose children were found starved, infested with scabies and suffering from various life-threatening diseases has been sentenced to six years’ jail.
In sentencing today, Supreme Court Justice Christopher Kourakis labelled the woman’s crimes “abhorrent”.
“I have struggled to understand how and why you let the health of your children slip away before your very eyes,” Justice Kourakis said.
“You allowed your children to be reduced to little more than a scheme to harvest benefits.
“You came perilously close to causing the death of your child. It is not alleged you intended to harm your children, but you were recklessly indifferent”.
He said the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, neglected her children at a northern-suburbs house “not fit for human habitation” in 2008.
“During the five months (she spent at the house) you failed to provide adequate food, shelter and medical attention for your children.
“They (the children) were permitted to eat little more than left-over fish and chips and noodles”.
He said the “starving” and “emaciated’ children were at times choked if they tried to take food not given to them.
He also said the children were forced to stand with their hands over their heads for long periods and that their mother did nothing to prevent other children in the house from assaulting them.
The degree of the woman’s neglect was exposed when she took her five-year-old boy, who weighed just 14.6kg, to the Lyell McEwin hospital because he was “limp and floppy”.
He was suffering malnutrition and scabies, had a body temperature of 26C, had severe hypothermia, and had recently suffered a severe head injury.
Authorities then raided the woman’s house and found her other children were showing similar signs of abuse.
She was charged with three aggravated counts of creating a risk of serious harm and two aggravated counts of endangering life.
Justice Kourakis said his sentence must reflect the community’s “abhorrence” at such crimes towards children.
“Where the parental instinct is not in itself enough to provide a deterrent, the law must fill the vacuum,” he said.
He sentenced the woman to six years’ jail and set a non-parole period of three years and three months.