Negligent mum was ‘frazzled’ when her stepson was burned
A TOWNSVILLE woman was overcome with emotion as she faced a judge charged with inflicting serious burns to her two-year-old stepson.
The 29-year-old woman, who cannot be identified to protect the identity of the child, faced the Townsville District Court on Wednesday where she pleaded guilty to grievous bodily harm.
Her two-year-old stepson suffered second-degree burns to 14 per cent of his body while the woman cared for him alone. Her lawyer said the boy was burned after the "frazzled" mum failed to supervise him in the shower in March 2018.
But, crown prosecutor Monique Sheppard said exactly when the child suffered the serious burns was "unknown" and that the story "proffered" by the woman to medical experts and police was "at best inaccurate".
By the time the boy was taken to hospital, at least a day later, a secondary bacterial infection had developed that if left untreated could have spread to the bloodstream and would have likely led to death, Ms Sheppard said. "How the injuries were caused to the child (is) unknown," she said.
Ms Sheppard said that the defendant's explanation did not align with medical evidence. "The crown accepts that we cannot exclude that the child's injuries were occasioned by being exposed to hot water in the shower for a period of time," she said. "But the estimation provided by the defendant of the exposure being 25 to 30 seconds is not accurate."
Ms Sheppard said it was "concerning" the woman did not seek immediate medical help for the boy and that it "beggars belief" that she told investigators the boy "seemed all right".
"The basis upon the grievous bodily harm charge was that there was a sufficient time period between the causing of the injury and the receiving of treatment that a secondary bacterial infection had developed," she said.
As a result of the incident, the boy was taken into the care of the state. Police originally tried to charge the woman with torture and a string of other serious offences in 2019 amid allegations she deliberately poured boiling water on to the two-year-old boy.
But the 29-year-old was sentenced after pleading guilty to a single charge of grievous bodily harm through negligence. She had been the boy's sole carer because her partner, the child's father, was in jail.
Defence barrister Franklin Richards accepted the prosecutor's submission that her estimate of the time the boy was in the shower was wrong.
The boy fully recovered from his injuries.
Judge Gregory Lynham sentenced her to a wholly suspended sentence of two-and-half years. A conviction was recorded.
Originally published as Woman guilty of burning stepson