28 Oct 2015

Five years' jail for mother who burnt child's hands

1:36 pm on 28 October 2015

A woman who deliberately burnt her toddler's hands and left the burns untreated has been jailed for a total of five years.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was sentenced today in the Wellington District Court after a jury found her guilty of wounding the child and failing to seek medical attention.

In August 2012 a police officer went to the woman's Porirua home to investigate a noise complaint and discovered the injured two-year-old boy there.

The woman said the child's fingers had been burnt accidentally, but the Crown said she deliberately placed the boy's hands in very hot liquid.

A doctor estimated the burns were at least three months old and because they had not been treated, the little boy's fingers had become fused together, removing his ability to use his hands.

He later underwent a five hour operation and skin grafts on both hands to restore the use of them.

The woman's lawyer, Brett Crowley said the injuries were inflicted on the child in a momentary act of frustration and there was no pre-meditation or sustained attack.

He said his client was an alcoholic, who had some mental impairment, was paranoid and came from an abusive background.

Judge Chris Tuohy said there were several aggravating features including the vulnerability and defencelessness of the little boy and the breach of trust involved.

He said the woman's sustained failure to obtain treatment for the child, and the pain that caused, was probably worse than the actual infliction of the injuries.

The judge said the boy was now in CYFS care, but was said to be embarrassed by his hands and would have ongoing difficulties, partly as a result of what was done to him

He jailed the woman for three and a half years on the wounding charge and added 18 months onto that for the neglect charges.

Judge Tuohy granted the woman permanent name suppression to protect the identity of her child.