A 24 year old woman described by Justice Vui Clarence Nelson as unfit to be a mother was handed a jail term of 11 years for manslaughter after she hit her baby girl on the head with a broomstick, and threw her across the house.
Results of an autopsy by a forensic pathologist confirmed the malnourished one year old died from multiple head fractures.
Pregnant at the time of the incident back in May 2019, the woman who was granted name suppression by the Courts had originally denied the charges through defense counsel Masoe Charlie Vaai. However, she changed her plea just before the hearing date in February this year.
According to the police summary of facts accepted by the defendant through a delayed guilty plea, she was home with her 3 children while her husband was at work..
She told Probation she got very angry when her baby, the youngest of three children at the time, kept crying while she was trying to put the toddler to sleep.
She said that’s why she struck the child with a broomstick. The baby didn’t stop crying so the defendant grabbed her and threw her across the room against concrete walls.
This silenced the unconscious child and by the defendant’s own admission, that is when she panicked and sought transport to take the child to the hospital.
Efforts were made to rush the toddler to the Tuasivi District Hospital but the one year old was pronounced dead on arrival.
Justice Nelson said the police summary of facts was based on the defendant’s side of the story, however, findings from the post mortem revealed a pattern of abuse.
“The post mortem report firstly found that the baby was severely malnourished, and underweight.. that is, the baby suffered from malnutrition caused by poor diet and/or insufficient food.”
Justice Vui went on to say the pathologist had also found multiple skull fractures, which caused bleeding to the brain.
Findings of the post mortem also pointed towards severe force to the head of child caused by multiple impacts.
“I fear for your other children,” Justice Vui told the 24 year old mother.
“I’m going to ensure you go nowhere near them until you have some extensive counselling and treatment that will satisfy the Court you understand the obligations and responsibilities of being a parent,” Justice Vui said.
Justice Nelson accepted the starting point of 15 years submitted by Prosecution who submitted children are entitled to be brought up in a safe environment.
After deductions for the guilty plea, remorsefulness and being a first offender, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson sentenced the mother to 11 years imprisonment.
As a stern message to parents who continue to abuse their children, Justice Vui warns, “uncomfortable cells at Tanumalala awaits you – if you treat your children this way”.