A Greerton mother who failed to get medical treatment for her severely burned  2-year-old son received a scathing reaction from a Tauranga judge  who was told she was working as a childcare reliever.
"You have got to be kidding," Judge Louis Bidois said when Stephanie Tapiata's lawyer, Rebekah Webby, confirmed her client was still working at a kohango reo. Tauranga District Court was told yesterday that Tapiata had left her son without medical treatment while she went visiting and socialising.
Tapiata, 24, admitted in court a charge of neglecting a child - a charge which attracts a maximum penalty of five years in jail.
The court was told the boy was severely  burned on his scalp, neck and back after knocking a pot of boiling water and instant noodles on to himself on August 21 while left in the care of Tapiata's 14-year-old brother for three hours. When Tapiata arrived home she found her son crying loudly in pain and he repeatedly told her he was sore.
His pain was described as being 10 on a pain scale of one to 10 and the blister marks on his body were "like an element going red".
 But instead of seeking medical advice, Tapiata  took him to visit her parent's grave, went to a sports club, where she played pool, and then visited a relative.
 By this time the wound  had developed into large blisters. The next day, Tapiata  took her son to a rugby game before leaving with relatives for the rest of the day and overnight.
On Sunday, the boy was returned  to his father who took him to the doctor the following morning.  The boy was walking hunched over and was reluctant to move his head. The GP reported the matter to police.

Ms Webby said Tapiata  accepted she was remiss in not seeking medical attention earlier.
Child, Youth and Family had investigated and the victim was now back in Tapiata's care, she said.
Judge Bidois said this was a  clear case of wilful neglect by a parent who showed poor judgment. "I can't believe that a responsible mother didn't know they needed to get some immediate treatment for this injury."
The judge said it was also disturbing to see that a childcare reliever didn't show the type of judgment expected when it came to showing concern for her own child's welfare.

A deterrent sentence was required for such serious offending the judge said.
Tapiata was sentenced to 240 hours' community work and six months of supervision which includes attending a parental counselling programme.