A Northland mother found guilty in relation to the death of her infant has been sentenced to home detention and ordered to undertake an appropriate parenting programme if directed.
A judge-alone trial was held in February in the High Court at Whangārei where the 32-year-old woman was found guilty on one charge of assault with a weapon and another of ill-treatment of a child.
The 5-month-old baby boy died in a house at Raumanga where emergency services were called on the night of August 22, 2019.
The woman's interim name suppression lapsed today
when she appeared for sentencing but she still cannot be identified for legal reasons.
She read in court a letter from her mother who said her daughter was a well-behaved little girl in their family and was always quiet.
Her lawyer, Wayne McKean, said she was deeply remorseful. That was reflected in a letter she wrote to the court and was also expressed to the Probation Service, which described her as naive, insular, and socially unbalanced for her age.
Sentencing her, Justice Gerard van Bohemen said the initial findings of the post mortem examination of the child revealed skull and several rib fractures, and significant bruising to his head and other parts of the body.
However, the judge said, a blow to the child's head with a shower set inflicted by the woman did not cause the skull fracture or his death.
She was visibly distressed while sitting in the dock and calmly left after sentencing, wiping off tears.
Justice van Bohemen determined she was genuinely remorseful for her actions and that she accepted she failed to protect her baby.
Crown solicitor Mike Smith submitted a starting point of sentence of between five and six years was appropriate given the serious injury to the child, cruelty, and attack to the head.
Her lawyer argued a two-year starting point was appropriate.
The judge set the starting point at three years and applied discounts for remorse and an absence of previous conviction.
A psychiatrist said although the woman spent time at the Mason Clinic after her arrest and was prescribed anti-depressants for behavioural issues, she had no mental health issues.
However, she had poor parenting capability, the psychiatrist said.
Justice van Bohemen sentenced the woman to 10 months home detention on both charges and directed that she attend and complete any parenting programme deemed appropriate by her Probation officer.