Thursday, 22 August 2013

FILICIDE (multiple): Australia: Brisbane mother who starved her twins to death wants her other children back when granted parole

The 35-year-old woman from Brisbane's southern suburbs was yesterday sentenced to eight years jail for her children's manslaughter but was granted immediate parole eligibility that could secure her freedom in as little as 180 days.
She sighed and sobbed with relief in the prisoner's dock in court 11 of the Brisbane Supreme Court as Justice Peter Lyons took into account the five years she had already served in custody since her arrest in 2008.
The woman's four surviving children, one of whom was in court for the sentence, are either living with a foster family or are in the care of the Department of Child Safety.
Her barrister Soraya Ryan told the court the twins' mother maintained a good relationship with her children, saw them regularly and spoke to her eldest daughter on the phone daily. She said the mother held concerns for one of her sons who still lived in group accommodation.
"She cannot wait for the day when she can be a mother for him and her other children,'' she said.
Outside court, the twins' grandmother said she was happy with the outcome.
"Now my grandchildren can finally get to see their mother,'' she said.
"It has taken a toll on her mental and physical state and she has owned up to her past in all this and in the long run, she's still my daughter and I still love her.''
The mother was on trial for the twins' murder alongside her de facto partner, 33, but the jury was discharged from returning a verdict when Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne QC indicated he would accept their pleas of guilty to manslaughter this month.
Mr Byrne said the mother's trial was abandoned when he became unable to negate the woman's defence of diminished responsibility.
He summarised that although a killing had taken place with "requisite intent'' it was "partially excused" because of the woman's "substantial impairment of capacities'', which was evidenced by a mental illness.
Justice Lyons found the woman was affected by a major depressive illness or episode at the time the twins' died and had not formed an intention to kill them.
He said her offending was "very serious'' and aggravated by the death of two "vulnerable and helpless'' infants.
Justice Lyons said the mother's offending was a "gross departure'' from the minimum standards expected by the community.
"What you failed to do reduced those infants to a pitiable condition and resulted in their death,'' he said.
Ms Ryan said her client had co-operated with police by answering their questions during interviews with "honesty, remarkable frankness and openness''.
She said it was implausible the mother formed an intention to kill her twins when their father lived in the same house.
"All he had to do was open the door,'' she said.
The infants were almost 18 months old when their decomposing bodies were discovered by their sister together in a cot in their bedroom in 2008.
The court was told the twins had already been dead for at least a week and weighed less than 5kg at the time.
The father, who will be sentenced in September, told the court he had not seen the babies for at least a month before their bodies were found because he was at work, drinking and playing poker.

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