26 January 2023

'I wish I never had you': mother choked, assaulted her seven-year-old son

| Albert McKnight
Law courts

A 50-year-old mother has been sentenced for assaulting her seven-year-old son. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

CONTENT WARNING: Some readers may find this article distressing.

A seven-year-old boy drew pictures of his mother assaulting and choking him in such a savage attack that he thought he was going to die.

In April 2022, the 50-year-old woman had woken up to find her young son had been using scissors to cut up items like curtains and electrical cords.

In response, she threw a heavy book and shoes that hit his head, pushed him into the shower causing bruises to his back, and sprayed powder onto his face, which scared him because he thought it was toxic.

Also, she lifted her child off the ground by his throat, which meant he couldn’t breathe and he later said everything looked like a “big smudge”.

When the assault happened, she told him: “I wish I never had you.”

The young boy drew pictures and words to describe what happened to him, which were given to the ACT Magistrates Court for his mother’s sentencing on Wednesday (25 January).

For instance, the description he gave for one was: “[My mother] was yelling at me for a long time.”

Another showed: “[my mother] is choking [me]. I was struggling to breathe. I was thinking I was going to die.”

He wrote, “sad, hurt, scared, frightened” to describe how he was feeling.

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His mother started sobbing in court when the descriptions of his drawings were read out.

The boy was removed from his mother’s home after the attack and he now lives with a carer, who also wrote a court statement in which he said the boy was “such a sweet child”.

The carer said it was difficult to take the boy out of the house because “he is terrified that we will run into her [his mother] and she will try to talk to him”.

Georgia Briggs, of Briggs Law, representing the mother, said her client had been a single parent who faced numerous struggles that had had a “snowball effect” and culminated in the incident.

These included a lack of support, several severe mental health conditions, the Black Summer bushfires and difficulties that came with having her child at home full time during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Ms Briggs said when her client had woken up to find her son had been cutting items, including personal ones of sentimental value, that was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.

The lawyer said the mother had told her “this is the worst thing that she has ever done” and she urged the court to consider the loss of her son to her, as a care order has been made for two years.

But prosecutor Juanita Zankin said the offending had been “entirely unjustified”.

“The offence was committed in betrayal of the family relationship,” she said.

“The victim’s mother is expected to care for and protect the victim.”

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Ms Zankin noted how the mother had tried to justify her behaviour to the author of a court report by making victim-blaming statements, as well as how she had told police: “OK, maybe I was a bit rough.”

Chief Magistrate Lorraine Walker described the incident as an “ongoing abuse”, but also said it was a classic case of intergenerational trauma, as the mother had suffered physical and emotional abuse herself when young.

She also noted the mother had significant mental health conditions and sentenced her to 15 months’ jail, fully suspended for a three-year good behaviour order.

The mother had pleaded guilty to charges of choking and assault.

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