Bracing for son's funeral
A young mother says she should not have to know how to plan her child's funeral, but she now does after Peter Ross Moran inflicted life-changing injuries on her 2-year-old son.
In the High Court in Palmerston North yesterday, Moran, 24, was sentenced to 3 years' jail for causing what Justice Jillian Mallon described as "catastrophic" injuries to the boy.
On May 16, 2011, Moran was living in a Ruahine St property with the child and his mum, Renee Robinson.
While she slept in her bed, he lashed out at the child, causing severe brain injuries by inflicting blunt-force trauma. A vein tore in the boy's brain, resulting in bleeding into the brain.
The brain also swelled to such an extent that more than half of it ended up dying. After it died, it turned into what paediatric radiologist Russell Metcalfe called "watery mush" before being reabsorbed.
The boy now has serious cognitive and communication issues, and the right side of his body is paralysed.
At Moran's sentencing yesterday, Robinson read her victim impact statement to the court. She said her son had been left with permanent damage to both sides of his brain. He has up to six seizures a day, with seizures progressively becoming worse.
"With every seizure he experiences, I never know if he will recover, or if it will be the one that causes more damage, or if it will be his last.
"Being aware what is required for the funeral of your son is not something a young mother should know."
Robinson said she had taken life for granted until the day her son was seriously injured.
"I had a little beautiful boy, I was in love with Peter Moran. He was my best friend, but life has now severely changed."
One of the hardest moments since that day was watching her son when a friend visited with their daughter.
"She asked her father to take her to the playground. [My son] wanted to go and tried to climb out of his bed, but just broke into tears.
"As a mother, it is hard to watch your child's face dissolve into tears and know there is nothing you can do to help. [My son] will never be able to live a life of independence, good health and freedom."
She said she had been made to feel like a criminal because of what happened.
"People ignorant to the facts of the case call me names in public."
The boy now lives with Robinson's parents, Adrian and Sheryl Downey.
Adrian Downey read a victim impact statement to the court on behalf of the couple, and said they felt they were paying a higher price for Moran's actions than he was.
Now the boy's fulltime caregivers, the couple had spent "every cent we have ever had" to provide care for the child.
They had had to take out a 100 per cent home loan to purchase a property which could house the child, Adrian Downey said.
Sheryl Downey had to give up work to become a fulltime caregiver, while her husband's career had suffered due to him not being able to dedicate enough time to his work.
The judge said Moran's age and lack of violent history had to be taken into account, but there could be no sentence discount for remorse.
"You maintain your innocence and are not remorseful."
The fact it was one instance of lashing out, instead of a prolonged period of abuse, also meant his sentence would not be the maximum seven years imprisonment, she said.