Mother admits ill-treating baby

Invercargill District Court.

A MOTHER whose five-week-old baby came as close to death as possible yet still survived, admitted ill treating and neglecting the baby when she appeared in the Invercargill District Court last Wednesday.

The 38-year-old, who has interim name suppression, plead guilty before Judge Duncan

The summary of facts says the baby was born in August 2018, three weeks premature.

The baby was home 16 days when it lost consciousness for the first time.

At the time the woman’s partner woke her up with the baby in his arms ‘‘cold and floppy’’.

Text messages between the couple early the following day revealed the father was not at the home, with the woman saying she needed to take the baby to hospital.

At one point she dialled 111 but hung up before being put through.

In a statement to police on October 4, 2018, she says when the man passed her the baby after he had told her it had stopped breathing, the baby looked fine to her and ‘‘was drinking and everything fine… I just presumed what had happened was not as bad as (the father) had described’’.

The following days, medical professionals visited the home including a general practitioner, plunket nurse and two visits from a midwife but the woman said nothing to them about the incident.

The defendant did not take the baby to hospital despite knowing that he needed to go to hospital, the summary says.

When the baby was five weeks old, at about 3.30am on September 30, ambulance staff uplifted it from the home.

The baby had no pulse when it was rushed to hospital, a heart rate of zero, its skin was cyanosed (blueish discolouration), was 33.7 degrees (Celsius) and he had to be resuscitated by medical staff, the summary of facts say.

It was flown to Starship Hospital to be treated.

Dr Patrick Kelly, the service clinical director of Starship Hospital said the baby ‘‘came about as close to death as it is possible to come and still survive’’.

A full medical examination revealed the baby had two broken ankles, broken bones at both
knees, two broken wrists, multiple fractures of left ribs, possible fractures of the right toe and an unexplained abdominal injury.

Buckling of the ribs on the baby’s chest could be attributed to being given CPR, the summary says.

‘‘The medical report concluded that the only possible diagnosis in this case is of non-accidental injury from repeated episodes of physical child abuse and that the cause of the stopping of the breathing was most likely from inflicted suffocation.’’

Rib fractures were as a result of violent squeezing of the chest and other fractures as a
result of forces applied to the baby as it was twisted and pulled.

A police investigation revealed no evidence suggesting any other person other than the woman and her partner could be responsible for the injuries.

The woman was remanded on bail and will appear for sentence on April 14.