ZB

Mother sent to jail for years of ill-treatment of child

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 3:37pm
The woman appeared before Judge Phillip Cooper at the Hastings District Court. (Photo / NZME)
The woman appeared before Judge Phillip Cooper at the Hastings District Court. (Photo / NZME)

Mother sent to jail for years of ill-treatment of child

Author
NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Fri, 17 Jun 2022, 3:37pm

A woman who ill-treated her daughter and starved her to the point of malnutrition for years has been sent to prison.

Doctors believe the girl, now seven, may never grow to her proper height because of the treatment she received.

The woman, whose name is suppressed appeared before Judge Phillip Cooper in the Hastings District Court on Friday.

She had earlier pleaded guilty to representative charges of ill-treating a child.

Judge Cooper sentenced her to two years and three months in jail.

The charges covered the mother's continuing behaviour towards the child over two periods between 2016 and 2020, and during 2021.

The charges stated that the woman withheld food and nutrition from her daughter, exposing her to the likelihood of starvation, malnutrition and "failure to thrive".

Last year, the girl was admitted to hospital and diagnosed with chronic malnutrition, a Crown summary of facts said.

It stated that the woman regularly fed her only once a day, and treated her differently to her siblings.

The girl was not allowed to eat with other family members, and often had to wait until they had finished before being offered the leftovers.

"The defendant admitted to knowing that the victim was regularly hungry and often asking for more food," the summary said.

The mother also stopped relatives and childcare centre workers feeding the hungry girl, telling them her daughter had allergies or bowel problem.

The girl was born prematurely in 2014.

At the age of six, she was very thin and at 94cm the height of a normal three-year-old.

"Her short stature was diagnosed as a result of psychosocial dwarfism," the summary of facts said. "This is a syndrome caused by maternal emotional deprivation, stress and neglect."

It said that doctors had said that doctors reported she may never now reach her "normative" height.

In 2019, the girl's father arranged to meet her grandmother at a supermarket. He handed the girl over and said "she is coming to live with you".

At that time, the four-year-old girl weighed just 11kg.

The girl lived for several months with her grandmother, who reported that she had a huge appetite and did not know when to stop eating after being deprived of food for so long.

In her grandmother's care, the girl's weight increased to 18.5kg. She returned to her mother's care just before her fifth birthday and within weeks, her weight had dropped back to 15kg.

An aunt offered to take care of the child but the mother refused. A cousin offered to help, but the mother told her that the girl was "just an attention-seeker".

The summary also said that at times the girl was kept in a cold room with wet hair and no blankets, was forced to sleep in a blow-up pool, and was not enrolled in school so that questions would not be asked about the lack of food she was getting.

The charges carried a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.