21 September 2022

Leeton woman's conviction over child's fractured skull overturned

| Chris Roe
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Leeton District Hospital

The husband took the child to Leeton Hospital after she had thrown up several times, and appeared “doughy”. Photo: Google Maps.

The NSW Court of Appeal has overturned the conviction of a woman found guilty of fracturing her 13-month-old foster daughter’s skull near Leeton in 2018.

In 2020, the woman fronted Albury District Court for a judge-alone trial where she was found guilty of one count of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm, then later sentenced to two years jail to be served as an intensive corrections order in the community.

She was granted leave to appeal on the grounds that the verdict was unreasonable and not supported beyond reasonable doubt by the evidence.

The charges date back to an incident in 2018 while the child was in the care of the woman and her husband, who also fostered her two-year-old brother.

On 28 October, the husband took the child to Leeton Hospital after she had thrown up several times, appeared “doughy” and would not open her eyes.

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She was soon transferred to Griffith Base Hospital and then flown to Sydney where she was found to have a fracture to her skull, fractures to both wrists, cuts to her inner upper lip and bruising to her head behind the right ear, both wrists, and lower and upper limbs.

She remained in Sydney Children’s Hospital where she recovered and was discharged on 7 November, 2018.

The child had been in the care of the woman throughout the day and it was proposed that she had become frustrated with the child and had lost her temper.

The Crown prosecution had alleged that the woman had assaulted the child some time on 28 October, 2018, causing the injuries that amounted to grievous bodily harm.

The judge had agreed that the number of injuries, their location and probable cause were inconsistent with an accident and, without an alternative explanation, the woman was found guilty.

However, on appeal, it was argued that it had not been satisfactorily proved that the child’s injuries had occurred within the time period in question and that they did not constitute ”grievous bodily harm”.

The Court of Appeal agreed that the Crown’s circumstantial argument had not established guilt beyond reasonable doubt and the conviction was quashed and the woman acquitted.

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