A court has heard that a South Australian mother left her sleeping three-year-old son in her car on a 41-degree day while she went shopping – because he slipped her mind.
According to the ABC, the woman pleaded not guilty yesterday to an aggravated charge of creating a risk of serious harm. Due to legal reasons, the woman has not been named on trial.
The jury heard that the boy was hysterical and perspiring when a passer-by found him locked in the car in the carpark of Tea Tree Plaza shopping centre at Modbury in February 2014. He was however otherwise unharmed from the ordeal.
Prosecutor Andrew Fowler-Walker said she deliberately left her son in the car because he was sleeping.
“From her own record of interview, in the prosecution’s submission, she had a clear motive to leave her son in the car while she took her daughter shopping,” he said. “She did not want to wake him because he gets irritable and complains and says he’s too tired to walk anywhere and that’s what happened in this case.”
The prosecutor told the court the young boy was trapped in the car’s heat for nearly an hour while the mother shopped with her teenage daughter and bought an ice cream.
“By the time the accused came wandering back from McDonald’s through Myer and stumbled across her child with the ambulance officer, that was a period of 51 minutes, so she was away from the child for 51 minutes,” he said.
Upon her return to the car, an ambulance officer allegedly heard the woman say words to the effect of:
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I forgot him. I’m here now. Can’t I just leave with him? I only popped into Big W for a few minutes”.
Defence lawyer Adam Gaite told the jury his client genuinely forgot about her son in the car.
“You might immediately be wondering how could a mother do that, how could a mother simply forget that her son was in the car when it’s in excess of 40 degrees Celsius?” he said. “In this case you will hear variations of this concept of forgetfulness and what I … will be seeking to show is that she genuinely had this moment of inadvertence and you will hear why it might have happened. People can forget things for all sorts of reasons. This is a monumental case of inadvertence, but it doesn’t place her, in my respectful submission, into the category of a criminal.”
An investigating police officer told the court the temperature inside the station wagon had been measured to be about 3 degrees above the outside temperature.
The trial continues today.
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