A 31-year-old Parkes woman was sentenced to seven years’ jail today in Parkes District Court after assaulting a five-year-old foster child in her care.
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Brooke Roberts of Middleton Street, appeared before Judge Stephen Hanley on the charge of reckless grievous bodily harm, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of ten years.
Roberts was charged with the offence almost a month after emergency services were called to a home in Parkes following reports a five-year-old girl had been injured.
According to facts tendered in court Roberts called 000 and claimed the child had injured herself causing scratches all over her face and body and a large lump on her head.
She claimed the child had been behaving erratically for the previous five days.
Roberts said the victim had “peed her pants and crapped herself”.
An ambulance arrived to find the child to be incontinent of faeces and urine, tachycardic with a low respiratory rate and bruising to her entire body and head.
Her most significant injury at that time appeared to be bilateral swelling to the side of her head.
The child was taken by NSW Ambulance Paramedics to Parkes District Hospital, before being airlifted to Sydney Children’s Hospital for specialised treatment.
A comprehensive summary of the child's injuries are contained in a report compiled by Dr Paul Hotton.
Dr Hotton described her brain injury as severe and concludes that the most likely mechanism for this injury is significant blunt force trauma.
He further reported that it is difficult to age the subdural haematomas, however the degree of brain injury along with shearing of the brain would suggest the event occurred within the 24 hours of being found by ambulance.
“The child was found by ambulance crew to be incontinent of faeces and urine which would suggest that she had lost consciousness and thereby a loss of control of her bowels and bladder,” the report read.
Dr Hotton also detailed evidence of likely strangulation, hair pulling, forceful pinching and pulling of ears, bruising in areas difficult for children to inflict on themselves and human bite marks.
Dr Hotton concluded that the story given by the offender, of the victim throwing herself against the wall and falling down, is not plausible for the extent of her injuries.
“The type of brain injury the victim has is often seen in children in significant high speed motor vehicle accidents and often needs high velocity and speed,” the report read.
“More than the forces generated by a child running into a wall.
“The overall clinical picture is that of definite inflicted injury.”
Roberts told police that when the victim woke in the morning, a week prior to being hospitalised, she had scratches or pinches on her chest, that she would throw herself into the coffee table and shower, punch herself in the face, would urinate and defecate on herself and bite her lip.
There is no record of any behavioural difficulties such as those raised by Roberts.
Judge Hanley said there has been no explanation provided by the offender as to what precisely occurred and the admission of the offence or why she did it.
“This is an horrendous offence committed against an innocent child who was incapable of defending itself,” he said.
“In such circumstances general deterrents must loom large in the sentencing process.
“Others entrusted with the care of children who are already in a state of danger must be made aware that offences against those in their care will be met with significant penalties.”
Judge Hanley said the injuries inflicted upon the child were horrific and long lasting.
“She has been deprived a quality of life that she was capable of achieving,” he said.
“The offender has deprived her of that opportunity.”
Judge Hanley sentenced Roberts to seven years imprisonment with a non-parole period of five years commencing October 23, and expiring on October 22, 2022.
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