Kinross: parents of baby girl with ‘at least’ 35 bone fractures jailed for mistreatment

Kinross: parents of baby girl with ‘at least’ 35 bone fractures jailed for mistreatment

SHE is now a “happy and content toddler” but the District Court has heard how a girl’s life began with unimaginable parental neglect that left her suffering with broken bones at nine weeks old in Kinross.

Her parents Hayden Shane Brooks and Sarah Jane Mary Deal, both aged in their 20s, were jailed on Friday after facing court in relation to their mistreatment of the girl, now aged two, in 2016.

The court heard the pair, living with Brooks’ parents at the time, delayed in taking their newborn daughter to hospital with “at least” 35 bone fractures and respiratory distress because they were worried their Centrelink fraud would be discovered.

Brooks was sentenced to 20 months in prison and Deal received an 18-month sentence after they pleaded guilty to having care of a child and knowingly engaging in conduct that may result in harm.

The child had recovered to become what Judge Alan Troy noted was a “happy and content toddler” after spending time in foster care.

The court heard the parents, who separated in 2016, were eventually granted supervised access to the girl and she was living in a house with Deal under the supervision of her mother.

Justice Troy, in his sentencing remarks, outlined a toxic environment in which the de facto couple used cannabis regularly and lived with the infant in a bedroom at Brooks’ parents’ home.

Brooks lost his job two weeks after the girl’s birth.

Justice Troy said the grandmother witnessed Deal, on one occasion, “slam the child down” into her lap “very forcefully, causing the child to be inconsolable and to scream”.

Justice Troy also outlined concerns from Brooks’ sister.

“She witnessed a bruise on (the child’s) right cheek which you, Mr Brooks, claim to have been caused when you dropped a lollipop on to her face,” he said.

“I accept that you told your sister that was what occurred and I find that it was an obvious falsehood.”

He said a statement from the sister said she had heard the infant screaming one night and “it sounded like she was getting murdered. Long to short to long screams.”

The sister had not witnessed any physical violence, however.

On May 4, 2016, seven weeks after the victim’s birth on March 12, the parents took her to a Kinross GP, who told them their daughter was “failing to thrive”, had respiratory distress and needed immediate attention at the Joondalup Health Campus emergency department.

The pair ignored the request, with Deal not taking the girl to hospital until May 19 – 15 days later.

She was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital in an ambulance because her condition had deteriorated.

Justice Troy outlined the injuries doctors discovered the girl had suffered.

“It was determined (she) had sustained at least 23 rib fractures, and each long bone in her body had at least one fracture,” he said.

“(She) had sustained at least 35 fractures to her body… there is no doubt in my mind at all that all, or at least the vast majority of these injuries, were inflicted deliberately.

“A number of the injuries are explicable by twisting or pulling on the limb… there is no suggestion of a bone abnormality causing bones to fracture more easily than normal.”

Child Abuse Squad investigators asked Brooks why the pair did not take the girl to the hospital straight away and he told them the “biggest reason” was because they were concerned Centrelink would learn of their living arrangement.

Centrelink was not aware Deal was living with them in the house.

Investigators also found the pair went home and smoked cannabis the night their daughter was in hospital.

Justice Troy acknowledged the hearing did not definitively find the pair was responsible for the girl’s injuries and if it had they would be facing much heavier penalties.

But he told them “neither of you have satisfied me, on the balance of probabilities that you, yourself, did not inflict any injuries”.

They were sentenced on the basis they allowed the girl to suffer for more than two weeks after the doctor told them she needed emergency treatment.

He noted both offenders were remorseful and “on the way” to rehabilitation but Deal was “demonstrably further along the way” than Brooks.

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