NSW couple who murdered toddler and blamed it on family dogs jailed for at least 30 years

The inhumane torture of a three-year-old toddler was so traumatic that some police and ambulance officers involved in the case have left their jobs over the "terrible crime of child murder".

 

On Thursday the perpetrators - the little boy's mother and stepfather were each sentenced to at least 30 years in jail over the brutal abuse that led to his death.

Joseph had lived with extended family for three years but in the two months he was with his mother and stepfather in the NSW town of Oberon, he had his head slammed in a cupboard, eyes covered with duct tape and naked body shut in a freezing esky.

His stepfather, 48, told police he taped a ball into the child's mouth and caused his penis to swell by flicking it with a wooden spoon.



The final, fatal attack came in early August 2014 when Joseph would have had "no real capacity for resistance", Justice Peter Johnson said when sentencing the pair in the NSW Supreme Court in Darlinghurst on Thursday.

"This was a terrible crime of child murder," the judge said.

The mother has been jailed for at least 33 years and her husband for at least 30 years. Justice Johnson said they were "de-facto life sentences".



The couple admitted regularly abusing the boy but maintain he died after tripping over a rope tied to the family dogs during a trip to the local park.

The "ruse" was rejected by the jury and the sentencing judge.

Joseph's 43-year-old mother said the boy "just pushed my buttons too many times" and she "didn't connect with him".

"I had so many thoughts about killing Joey," she told police.

"Don't get me wrong, I did love that boy, but there was part of me that hated him because he looked like his father."

Justice Johnson said the mother's extended family shouldn't blame themselves for what happened less than two months after he was taken out of their care.

"Each of them provided care, love and support for Joseph whilst he lived with them in Sydney for several years," he said.

Outside court on Thursday, Joseph's uncle said the "appropriate punishment" has been "dished out".

"It still doesn't bring back Joseph but there's some closure there in terms of the length of the sentence," he said.

"They took the life of a three-year-old boy ... (who) probably would be running around at school now and nagging me to take him to McDonald's, so I think fair's fair."

Detective Sergeant Joel Fawkner said the case has been "very traumatic" with some police and ambulance officers leaving their jobs as a result.

"The inhumane torture and acts upon Joseph ... you can't unsee what we've seen," he said on Thursday.

Joseph's stepfather will be eligible for parole in 2044 and his mother eligible three years later.

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