A MOTHER who failed to seek medical treatment for her four-year-old son after a man they were living with allegedly used a cigarette lighter to burn the child has been spared an immediate prison sentence in Western Australia.
The 26-year-old woman, who cannot be named, was living with the man and paying him $100 per week, the WA District Court heard on Friday.
The man, who her son called “Uncle”, drove her to a job interview and was supposed to be supervising the boy when he used a lighter to burn the child’s hand in October last year, the court was told.
The boy also suffered bruises to his body, including his cheek and shoulder.
It was only after the boy’s maternal grandmother picked him up a few days later that she noticed his injuries and took him to see a doctor.
When police became involved, the woman initially said her son was out of control and liked to lie.
She later said she lived in fear of the man.
The woman pleaded guilty to engaging in reckless conduct that resulted in a child suffering while under her care, and aggravated assault causing bodily harm.
She was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, suspended for two years.
Judge Gillian Braddock described the case as shocking and distressing.
She said it cut across the “natural human bond” that was expected to exist “between every mother and child and that duty to protect that child from all harm”.
Judge Braddock described the woman as immature and desperate, while her co-offender was manipulative.
But she acknowledged the woman had since taken steps to rehabilitate herself.
“Bruises fade but the damage to the relationship between a young boy and his mother is a lifetime thing,” she said.
“You’ve got a lot to make up for.”
The man has also been charged and will face a trial next year.