Mother starved young child to death, murder trial hears

| 20.05,09. 07:05 AM |

Mother starved young child to death, murder trial hears

May 20, 2009 12:00am

A WOMAN charged with starving her daughter to death sang to the child's body for several hours before taking an overdose of pills and going to bed because she "could not cope".

A jury at the murder trial of the woman and her husband yesterday heard she tried to resuscitate the seven-year-old but gave up when she saw black vomit and bull ants crawling from the little girl's mouth.

The NSW Supreme Court was told the 35-year-old woman had walked into the child's bedroom about 7am and found her on a mattress. Upon realising there was nothing she could do to revive the girl, Crown Prosecutor Peter Barnett SC said the mother sang to her body for up to three hours then took 20 Panadol tablets and three Valium and went to bed because she "could not cope with what was going on around her".

The woman and her husband, 47, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have pleaded not guilty to murdering their daughter in November 2007 at their Hawks Nest home.

Mr Barnett warned jurors at the start of the trial in East Maitland that some of the photographs they would be shown as evidence could be as confronting as images of Nazi Germany's holocaust.

"If images of the holocaust of Nazi Germany concentration camps disturbed you, you may find evidence in this case confronting," he said.

In his opening address, Mr Barnett said a post-mortem examination of the dead girl revealed she weighed just 9kg and measured a mere 106cm in length and died from "long-lasting starvation and neglect".

The dead child's mother wiped tears and sniffled in the dock, alongside her husband, as the court was told the child's face was distorted because of chronic malnutrition and emaciation and her tiny body stank of urine and other odours, even after it had been bathed at the morgue.

"The eyes had lost eyeball pressure and had sunk due to dehydration and lack of fat around the eye sockets," Mr Barnett said.

"There was a total depletion of body fat . . . indicating chronic or long-lasting starvation."

The jury of six men and six women heard that a specialist at the Children's Hospital at Westmead said the child had suffered the worst case of malnutrition he had ever seen and that it " took weeks and months to become that emaciated".

The court also heard the child's father told police he couldn't understand her dying from starvation when he "fed her like anything".

He told police he put her weight loss down to getting used to her new home at Hawks Nest and missing some of her toys which had been left behind in Sydney.

The trial, before Justice Robert Hulme, continues today.

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