A newborn baby was alive when his mother wrapped him in a towel and left him in the laundry for 16 hours before calling the ambulance, a court has heard.
Prosecutor Glen Cash told the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday that Jodie Renee Tarnawskyj told authorities she believed little Oliver was stillborn when she delivered him in the toilet of her Gold Coast home on June 8, 2014.
But he said this was “not a reasonable belief to have been held” as an autopsy showed the 3.6kg full-term baby survived for “minutes or even hours” after his birth.
The cause of death is not known, but the court heard it could have been asphyxiation from the towel Oliver was wrapped in, or from an undiagnosed medical condition.
Tarnawskyj, 38, pleaded guilty to Oliver’s manslaughter on the basis that she failed to seek medical assistance immediately after the birth.
Justice Martin Burns sentenced her to five years, taking into account her very early guilty plea, her lack of criminal history, her co-operation with authorities and her remorse.
He suspended the sentence immediately as she had already served 885 days in custody.
The court heard Oliver was her third child and that she had made several inquiries about termination during the pregnancy but had done nothing about it.
“During the course of the pregnancy she vacillated between the idea that carrying the child to term was a desirable one or an undesirable one,” Mr Cash said.
He said Tarnawskyj refused to look at Oliver before she wrapped him and left him in the laundry for 16 hours while she tended to her other two children.
Her defence lawyer, John Allen, said his client was filled with “a profound sense of guilt, remorse, and loss”.
“She was a single mum of two young children with little support, obviously struggling with the care of the children, and that provides some context with her ability to cope with the pregnancy,” he said.
Justice Burns agreed Tarnawskyj was “overwhelmed, unsupported and isolated”, but said her devotion to her two older children made it difficult to understand her conduct in relation to Oliver.