‘Cruel’ NSW mother jailed over son’s death

She lied to police, saying her seven-year-old son fell off his pogo stick.


Now this Sydney mother will spend more than 10 years behind bars over the brutal abuse of the child, and standing by as he lay dying from a head injury.

Justice Ian Harrison on Thursday said the 27-year-old’s failure to help was “profound, cruel and selfish” as he sentenced her to a maximum of 14 years in jail.

The timid and gentle boy “must have suffered significantly” in the months before his death under a brutal bootcamp-style regime which included corporal punishment, neglect, and starvation, the NSW Supreme Court heard on Thursday.

But Justice Harrison accepted the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was genuinely remorseful and was under the influence of a domineering new boyfriend at the time.

The boy died in May 2013, about 24 hours after suffering a serious head injury allegedly inflicted by the boyfriend, who also cannot be named.

The Supreme Court heard the couple went about their business “as if nothing had happened”, making no attempt to call for medical help.

The boy was “in dire need of medical attention” but “was left relatively unattended for almost 24 hours”, Justice Harrison said.

The mother first told investigators the boy had fallen from a pogo stick at her boyfriend’s music studio in the southern Sydney suburb of Oatley.

She later admitted the story was a fabrication and pleaded guilty to a litany of charges, including manslaughter on the grounds of criminal negligence, in March this year.

Court documents tendered at the time detailed months of torment the boy suffered after his mother began seeing the man in January 2013, including starvation and beatings.

He was struck repeatedly with a wooden plank, denied food and drink, and one time made to run until the point of collapse.

The court heard the mother had been influenced by the boyfriend’s belief her son didn’t have a mild intellectual disability and simply needed toughening up.

In handing down a minimum sentence of 10 years and six months, Justice Harrison said the mother had “failed in her maternal duty”.

However, the mother had been a good carer prior to the relationship and Justice Harrison cited expert evidence she showed signs consistent with Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages form positive feelings about their captors.

He also accepted the mother was genuinely remorseful and had good prospects of rehabilitation with ongoing therapy.

A sentence discount of 40 per cent was applied for the woman’s early guilty plea and her willingness to give evidence against her former partner, who will stand trial for murder later in the year.

She sporadically dabbed her eyes with a tissue as the sentence was read aloud.

She will be eligible for parole in May 2024.