Foster mother jailed for murdering toddler

·2-min read

A foster mother has been jailed for at least 18 years for murdering a 20-month-old boy after punching him in the stomach in Dubbo.

The woman pleaded not guilty to murder but following a judge-alone trial, NSW Supreme Court Justice Richard Cavanagh convicted her and imposed a full-time prison sentence of 26 years and six months on Thursday.

The crown case was the woman who cannot be identified for legal reasons assaulted the toddler "as part of an ongoing episode" after arriving home in Dubbo on the evening of March 22, 2015.

The foster mother called emergency services at 5.17am on March 23 and when paramedics arrived he had no pulse and was not breathing.

He was declared dead in Coolah Hospital at 7.30am having suffered a closed head injury, fracture to the left femur and perforation of the stomach.

Some 24 separate areas of bruising, abrasions or scratch marks were also located.

The judge found the woman did not intend to kill the child, nor was there any form of planning or premeditation.

"However, I am satisfied that the offender did intend to hurt the deceased," Justice Cavanagh said.

"An adult cannot punch a 20-month-old child with such force as to cause a stomach perforation without intending to cause grievous bodily harm.

"An adult cannot impact such force on a child so as to result in a complete fracture of the femur without intending to cause serious injury to the child."

The woman maintains her innocence and has shown no remorse, so the circumstances of what occurred remain unknown.

The judge concluded the only explanation was a loss of control over a short period in the home that night.

The boy was born in July 2013 and his biological mother died after his death.

On the afternoon of March 22, 2015, the foster mother took the child to the next-door neighbour's house as a game of rugby league played on a big screen in the backyard.

The toddler interacted with a number of people who observed that he did not appear to be in pain or suffering from any injury at the time.

Evidence presented at trial showed the woman could behave aggressively when she had been drinking.

She gave three interviews to police which provide no explanation as to how the injuries occurred.

She said some injuries may have been caused from her partner accidentally treading on him during her resuscitation attempts, but the judge ruled it out as implausible.

The woman was previously thought of as a caring person and had no criminal history.

The judge found she was unlikely to reoffend and had good prospects of rehabilitation.

She will be first eligible for release on on May 7, 2037.

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