A Brisbane mother has been sent to prison after she left her children unsupervised in faecal-covered squalor.
The 22-year-old mother pleaded guilty to four charges of cruelty and negligence in the Brisbane District Court yesterday.
Not being able to be named for legal reasons, the woman broke down in tears as she was sentenced to 12 months’ jail. She will spend at least four months behind bars.
The court heard that neighbours saw the woman’s two-year-old standing naked on a window sill one morning screaming and banging against the glass in May 2014. They immediately called police out of concern for the child’s well being.
The court was then told that the then 20-year-old mother arrived home in a taxi before police arrived. Upon the police arriving, she told the police that the children had been supervised by family.
Prosecutor Caroline Marco said neighbours called police the next day again after the dirty and naked toddler was screaming at the window for hours.
Ms Marco said when police arrived, the four-year-old answered the door covered in faeces and wearing only a soiled nappy. Officers forced their way inside the property when the young child was unable to open the screen door. They found the mother asleep in the bedroom.
The court heard that the house was filled with bags of rotting garbage, with food and faeces on the ground in the kitchen. The children’s urine-soaked mattresses had no bedding.
Ms Marco said the mother complied with their order to bath the children but acted in a very hostile manner towards the officers when asked to do so. Concluding the bath, the mother dressed the children in dirty clothes because there were no clean ones available.
Medical examinations of the children were conducted and it was found that they were both suffering from chronic diarrhoea.
The court heard they also had disturbed eating behaviours, including eating off the floor and were experiencing delays in their development.
Lawyer for the defense, Catherine Cuthbert, said the mother remained psychologically vulnerable, despite not having a mental illness at the time of the incident. She is now being treated for anxiety and depression.
In his sentencing, Justice Tony Moynihan said leaving the children in unhygienic conditions when the mother had capacity to care for them was “cruel”.
Both children are in the care of their maternal grandmother and the Department of Child Protection.
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