How can this happen? That’s all we ask. That’s all we DEMAND an answer to. How?

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Political musings
Tags: , , , ,

After yesterday’s story, this is the other side of the child protection issue.

(From AAP)

What type of person beats a child? Sometimes, one simply despairs.

What type of person beats a child? Sometimes, one simply despairs.

A four-year-old boy bashed to death by his mother’s boyfriend told his grandmother, “(He) hurts me, nanny”, just weeks before his death, court documents show.

The little boy’s plea of, “(He) hurts me” and “(He) holds me down in the bath”, sparked efforts by his grandparents to alert the Department of Community Services (DoCs) and the police to his plight.

But no official action was taken and the boy died about five weeks later after the man hit him a number of times to the head while bathing him on April 1, 2011.

There were emotional scenes in the Supreme Court in Sydney on Monday when the man, 24, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to murdering the boy, but guilty to his manslaughter.

The boy’s mother sobbed in the stand as she described how she watched her son fall to his knees and how she initially lied to police about what happened to him.

On the evening of her son’s death, her boyfriend had been coming down from amphetamines when he insisted on being the “father figure” and bathing the little boy after he wet the bed, she told the court.

An agreed statement of facts tendered to the court also showed the mother had been smoking cannabis earlier that day, while the boy had been suffering from a urinary tract infection exacerbated by her accidentally giving him undiluted fruit juice.

“(The man) was aggravated. Anything could make him spark, crack,” the mother told the court.

While he was bathing the child, she said she heard four bangs coming from the bathroom.

“(I heard the man) saying after each bang, `…stop it’,” she said, adding he sounded, “angry, agitated”.

When she looked into the bathroom, she said she saw the child standing there.

“(He) took a step towards me and fell to his knees,” she said through her tears.

After she dried the boy off, she asked him if he wanted his pyjamas, but he said, “No mummy, it’s too hot”, she said.

“He was really hot to touch. He was glassy eyed,” she said.

The man then told her to “fuck off” and she went downstairs, she added.

“I was scared … because of the previous physical violence to each other,” she said.

A few minutes later – after the man had returned downstairs – he went back up to check on the child and then called for the mother to come quickly.

The little boy appeared blue, was lying on his back with his eyes closed and had “four red dots” on his forehand, the woman said.

“All I could do was scream out his name,” she said.

The boy died later at Warren Hospital, with doctors finding he died as a result of multiple injuries, including severe head injuries. He had also inhaled water prior to his death.

The court heard the boy had been taken to hospital four days before his death suffering from a nose injury, black eyes and a cut to his forehead.

After his death, additional recent injuries were discovered on his body.

When the little boy stayed with his grandmother in February 2011, he told her, “(the man) hurts me, nanny”, and “(He) hurt me and holds me down in the bath”, the statement of facts said.

“The (grandparents) attempted to air their concerns about his welfare with the Department of Community Services and the police, but ultimately no official action was taken,” the facts said.

Justice Elizabeth Fullerton asked the woman, “Did you know your son had told your mother within a short time of his death that (the man) had held him down in the water?”

“Yes,” the mother replied.

The man’s sentence hearing will resume on April 5.

  1. So, what exactly are the rules when one should interfere. I saw a fella in the supermarket bullying his kid (?) about 4 years old for touching his ‘things’ in the shopping cart. Then glaring and sneering at the shocked folks in the immediate area. Although he did not actually hit the kid he did repeat “I’m gonna smack you” a time or two .The silly part was his ‘things’ was a cheap rod/reel combo that kept falling over on the kid and could easily been carried or placed elsewhere. I gave him my best glare ( yes, I am shall we say…Scary ) and he shut up but I wondered if he would take that moment of powerlessness I gave him out on the kid later. I’ve seen asshole parents before but this one just gave me a real bad feeling.


    • You raise an interesting point. I think one has a duty, when seeing such behaviour, to suggest, politely, an alternative. I have found, usually (certainly not every time), that “Excuse me, please don’t be offended, but may I make a suggestion …?” rarely produces a negative response. I think we must also, always, be aware of the fact that the parent may need sympathy or advice, too … they may have clinically-relevant anxiety or anger-management issues that are not being treated, (and the lower down the socio-economic ladder they are the more likely that is, and people’s parenting skills – indeed, their interpersonal skills generally – vary widely, and sometimes kids can just be difficult to the point of distraction.

      I had a friend, for example, with a seriously autistic toddler, who on a bad day would scream blue murder with very little chance of calming him down inside ten minutes of rocking and reassurance. Invariably people thought she was being “weak”, when in fact she was being endlessly patient, as instructed by professionals. I dread to think how a less naturally compassionate or intelligent parent would manage. You raise an interesting point: damned if I know the answer.

      I know this – many families operate in a vacuum. If we were a “village” individuals would get much more support. Today’s disconnected urban societies leave many parents struggling with a lack of knowledge and a feeling of desperation. Add in drugs and alcohol and it is a tragically combustible mixture.


  2. jvdix says:

    Parents – any adults – should never beat up on children. Children should never beat up on parents or any other adults. You mention your friend with the seriously autistic toddler. Did you see this:

    Original post
    Controversy generated in just four days
    Still more debate

    Regardless where people stood, opinions were violently held. On a site I use a lot the first person who had welcomed me to the site came out about his son and what it had been like living in constant fear his son would kill him, and how hard it was to tell him he had to leave home to prevent that.
    I find it completely overwhelming. It makes me want to just go lead a life of quiet desperation.
    In no way do I want to excuse parents who hurt their children. There is no excuse for that. But I think everyone’s life is hard, and some people’s lives are hard in unthinkable ways. We don’t know.

    There was a mystery short story I read years ago based on a woman repeatedly sporting new bruises, causing neighbors to think her spouse was abusing her. Some tried to discuss it with her, and she explained that she was just very clumsy, and begged them to let it drop. Of course exactly what an abused spouse would say. Finally the neighbors did get the cops involved – and what the cops found was a counterfeiting ring. She really was just clumsy. She just didn’t want them to get busted for counterfeiting. It was a very funny story, but it also made the point that We. Don’t. Know.


    • My mother, who was a wise old coot, used to say “we never know what goes on behind closed doors”. And we don’t, for good or ill, in so many areas of life.


    • On the story you raise, I hadn’t seen it, and I read it, fascinated, thank you. I do think that the beginning of a serious national debate about mental health in America is long overdue, and this woman’s honesty is humbling. Mental illness is so often marginalized as a topic because people are frightened of it. If people could see the brain as “just a bunch of chemicals and electrical impulses that sometimes gets wired wrong” then a lot of the stigma would be removed, and many more people would access appropriate help sooner.


  3. An Nyv says:

    This post, from 2013, is a very timely one today. The mother in this tragic case was numbed out on cannabis. As pot use is rapidly becoming legalized and, hence, normalized, prepare for a new spate of cases of child abuse and neglect. “Substance” use and abuse is common among parents who blithely render their children’s lives a living–and dying–hell. When did feeling alert, normal, and in-tune with others’ needs and one’s own, come to be considered a boring, inadequate way to spend the day?


    • Stephen Yolland says:

      We don’t know the state of the mother or the killer, although clearly drugs were involved and possibly implicated. I suspect her response was conditioned as much by fear as it was anything to do with marijuana And we should remember that by far the most common cause of spousal and child abuse and murder is alcohol.


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