true crime

Mother who tried to murder her three children receives no jail time and allowed contact with her kids.

The mother had a “genuine belief” that death was the only way to relieve them and herself from what lay ahead.

Warning: This item deals with the attempted murder of children and an attempted suicide and may be distressing for some readers.

It was around 7.30pm on July 28th 2014. A mother was at home with her three children.

The older two she put to bed, she read them a story and lay with them for a moment as they talked about a holiday they were looking forward to. She kissed them goodnight. A tender, loving kiss and tucked them in.

They were safe, warm and loved. They drifted off to sleep.

They drifted off to sleep. Via IStock.

What they didn’t know is that as she kissed them goodnight she believed this would be the last time she saw them alive, as she tucked them in she believed this would be the final farewell, as the next thing this mother of three planned to do was murder them.

But before she could  put her plan into action she had another child, a younger one she had to tend to.

This child was still awake. It's often the youngest isn’t it that are unsettled at night? So she placed her child on their couch with a DVD, as they would have done so many times before.  She lay with her child and watched the little one fall asleep peaceful.

The mother from Taranaki, New Zealand - a town in the west of the north island  - was dealing with the fallout of a marriage breakup. She was depressed and suicidal and she was about to go to unthinkable lengths to ensure she would, as she saw it, never lose her children.

After her third child fell asleep she put her plan in action - a plan to poison herself and the children with carbon monoxide through car exhaust fumes.

A plan for them all to die.

What we know is that the woman, whose name has now been permanently suppressed for life, failed in her attempt to murder her children, thankfully they survived, but controversially she will not serve any jail time for their attempted murder and she is having access to her kids.

On this night the woman wrote a note explaining what she had done and  in one last act of love she scattered flowers throughout her home. She then cut up a vacuum cleaner hose and attached it so that carbon monoxide fumes from her car would filter throughout the house killing the children.

After starting up the car the woman returned to the living room and watched her youngest child begin to die.

She lay with her child and watched the little one fall asleep peaceful. Via IStock.

But then she snapped, she began to panic and she changed her mind.

The woman rang an ambulance, telling the dispatcher that she had tried to kill her children.

What’s remarkable about this case is that the judge presiding over it in the High Court at New Plymouth in New Zealand has displayed what some call compassion in sentencing and others are calling unfair sentencing by giving the mother a "merciful sentence" – and allowing her to avoid jail time.


The New Zealand Herald reports that the judge took into account “unique factors including the fact the mother and her former husband had been arguing over custody of the children. The judge said she developed a genuine belief that death was the only way to relieve them and herself from what lay ahead."

Justice Paul Heath said the woman was suffering from "major depressive episodes".

"[It] was based on a concern that you may not retain day-to-day care of your children if you and your husband were to separate or divorce," his ruling said.

The judge sentenced the woman to two years' intensive supervision. Via Facebook.

The judge said the woman “removed a knife from the kitchen and went to the garage. You obtained a hose from a vacuum cleaner and cut it in two lengths.

"You then took deliberate steps to turn off the house alarm system, so that any carbon monoxide fumes would not activate the smoke alarms, and fitted pipes in a manner that would allow the carbon monoxide to enter the bedroom."

He said she had a clear intention to murder her children.

"Your intention was that the carbon monoxide would operate to poison all four of you within about 15 to 20 minutes," Justice Heath said.

But then panicked.

"An ambulance transported you and your children to hospital immediately. By this time, your youngest child was unconscious," the judge said.

Justice Heath said the case was not "typical" and despite the victims being young children, there was no need for a sentence of imprisonment to be imposed.

"In rare cases, even for such a crime as attempted murder, a merciful sentence is required to take account of significant extenuating circumstances and diminished responsibility on the part of an offender.

"Indeed, it is much more desirable that a sentence be crafted to enable you to better manage the psychiatric disorder under which you labour. Society will not be at further risk provided you are treated properly."

The judge sentenced the woman to two years' intensive supervision, she must report to a probation officer at least once a week for the first three months of the sentence and at least once a month during the rest.

She now has access to her children again with supervised contact and according to the judge has made significant progress through weekly psychotherapy sessions.

For help: Lifeline 13 11 14. Kid's Helpline: 1800 55 1800. Men's helpline: 1300 78 99 78. Beyond Blue: 1800 222 4636.

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