A mother who secretly dosed her daughter with schizophrenia medication causing her to hallucinate and lose muscle control has been sentenced to home detention.
The 37-year-old woman, who has name suppression to protect the identity of the victim, took the medication, Risperidone, from a hospital where she worked as a registered nurse, and slipped the drugs into her daughter's yoghurt.
She continued to administer the drug to her 7-year-old daughter despite the child's worsening health, and while the child was in hospital suffering hallucinations and loss of muscle control.
The mother, who appeared in the Wellington District Court this afternoon, has pleaded guilty to four counts of ill-treating a child.
Judge Denys Barry said the drugs given to the child, a mixture of those prescribed by the hospital and those given by the mother, could have had "critical medical implications".
The mother also gave her daughter a drug called Naltrexone, which is used to treat alcoholism and opioid addiction.
The victim was born in October 2007, and since birth was repeatedly referred to GPs, neurologists and psychologists with the mother reporting symptoms of different syndromes and disorders.
The mother reported the victim had suffered epileptic seizures, and though medical tests never showed anything wrong with the girl, she was prescribed anti-convulsive medication in 2009 which the mother administered for the next several years.
From mid 2015 to August 2015, the mother also drugged the victim with Risperidone.
The antipsychotic drug is typically used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder.
The child was seen sleeping in school and was sent to the school medical room three to five times a week, for periods up to four hours. The sickness impacted on her relationship with other students and her learning environment.
In July 2015 the victim was admitted to Hutt Hospital in a "neurologically abnormal state", Judge Barry said.
The girl was confused, unsteady, and had slurred speech.
The ward did not have any CCTV monitoring, and the mother continued to give her daughter Risperidone during her time in hospital.
The victim became incontinent, suffered hallucinations, and had difficulty with muscle control.
On August 2 she was sent to the acute paediatric neurology site in Christchurch, which had CCTV monitoring. Over the next few days the victim's health improved and no seizure activity was recorded or observed.
As a result of her improvement, she was sent back to Hutt Hospital, where the mother again began administering Risperidone and Naltrexone.
When her condition again deteriorated, doctors carried out toxicology tests and discovered the presence of the unprescribed drugs.
The mother said she administered the Risperidone because she was frustrated with the medical intervention and thought the use of the drug had appeared to reduce the child's stress, anxiety, and seizures.
The woman, who has no criminal history, was pregnant with twins before the birth of the victim, but the twins did not survive the pregnancy.
Judge Barry said this led to an "underlying depressive illness".
He said the offending had left the relatives of the victim "emotionally scarred, bemused, and unable to comprehend what has beset their family".
A victim impact statement from the mother's husband expressed his "unremitting support" for her, and their children's desire to have the mother home, the judge said.
According to the husband's statement, all three children wanted their mother home so they could all once again live together as a family.
Judge Barry said the mother's actions were "distorted acting out of ways that she thought were in the best interests of the daughter".
Her depressive state following the loss of her twins underlined the case, he said.
"While it was in the context of this fragile mental health at the time, compounded by unresolved grief, it was also compounded with alcohol abuse, which probably stemmed from the same genesis.
"It's significant that there's no suggestion of any ill treatment of the two boys, and that the daughter was the next-born child after the twins' loss."
Judge Barry said the daughter was "resilient" and did not appear to be suffering any long-term effects from the drugging.
In his sentencing, he said the need to rehabilitate the mother trumped the need to deter and denunciate, as it was a "unique case".
"At the time, she was overwhelmed. Her thinking was askew."
He said the mother "felt ashamed".
The mother is participating in a rehabilitation plan, the judge said.
He sentenced her to 6 months home detention and 150 hours of community work.