A mother who poisoned her seven-year-old daughter who suffers cerebral palsy and epilepsy will continue to be allowed to live in the community and have access to her children, after the crown lost an appeal against the mother’s sentence.
The mother, known as RMW, drugged her then seven-year-old daughter, KW, with sedative chloral hydrate through her feeding tube at John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, in 2013.
She was arrested in July, 2013, and pleaded guilty to four charges but was served with intensive corrections orders to be served in the community.Yesterday, the Crown lost an appeal against her sentence that they had called manifestly inadequate.
The little girl had been under the care of the Paediatric Neurology Department at Newcastle's John Hunter Hospital since 2007 when she was 20 months old. Before her mother's arrest, the girl had been admitted to the John Hunter Children's Hospital on 44 occasions.
The ABC reports that 35 of these admissions were unplanned or emergency admissions. The seven-year-old had 12 unexplained life-threatening coma episodes before her mother's arrest.
Doctors had become increasingly concerned that the girl’s admissions were not linked to her cerebral palsy and involved police who installed surveillance cameras.
In July 2013 an officer viewing the surveillance cameras noted the mother feeding KW through her feeding tube.
The court heard: "At around 2.26pm, the OIC (Officer in Charge) observed the offender pour an unmeasured quantity of liquid directly from a bottle into KW's PEG tube.
"At 2.27pm, the offender again poured an unmeasured quantity directly from the bottle into the PEG tube.
"At the time, the OIC was on the telephone to Dr Smith and conveyed what she was witnessing to him."The court heard that the mother had been previously warned about the dangers of chloral hydrate and told that it would jeopardize the health and wellbeing of KW to keep her in hospital for the mother's own benefit.
But despite the NSW Court of Appeal acknowledging the “sentences imposed were manifestly inadequate” the court dismissed the appeal.
The court heard the mother maintains a job now and that jail would "do more harm than good."
The appeal court was told that the woman continues to see both of her children whenever she is permitted to do so, and that her children display “considerable warmth towards her.”
The Court of Appeal concluded that even if some steps could be taken to allow the woman to see her children in custody, the circumstances in which she could do so would obviously be less than ideal and would result in adverse consequences, not only for the respondent but for her children as well.