Mother of drowned toddler 'simply unlucky'

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 09:00 02/08/2014

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The mother of a Levin woman whose child drowned while unattended in a bath says her daughter was doing what all mothers have done, but was simply unlucky.

The woman was sentenced in the High Court in Palmerston North yesterday to four months' home detention for the manslaughter of her toddler.

The woman was also granted permanent name suppression.

The girl, who was nearly 2 and had a history of having seizures when hurt or left alone, drowned in a bath at home on October 25, 2012.

Her mother had come home after spending the day trying to get food and money from various agencies, as money was tight for her family, to find the child with a soiled nappy.

Her partner at the time had not changed it, so she removed the nappy and put the child in the bath.

She then put knives on the stove in preparation to take cannabis, then went outside to supervise her other child as they played in the yard. It is estimated she left her child alone in the bath for up to 13 minutes.

When she went back to her daughter, she was lying face-up, lifeless, in the bath.

She pleaded guilty to manslaughter earlier this year after a sentencing indication of a community-based sentenced.

In court yesterday, the woman's mother read her own victim impact statement to the court.

She said her daughter, who looked at the ground and cried while standing in the dock, was a great mother who people had been quick to judge for an unlucky moment.

"If we are honest, [mothers] have all put babies in the bath and walked out and got away with it."

She said her daughter had been strong throughout the long legal process, which had caused the extended family much grief.

"She puts on a brave face and gets on being a great mother."

Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said the woman should be sentenced to home detention.

He opposed name suppression, saying it had not been proven naming her would cause extreme hardship, which is the legal threshold.

Defence lawyer Steve Winter said suppression should not be granted just for the sake of the woman, who had suffered depression since the child's death, but for the sake of her two other children. "Any impact on her would be inevitable and would put them at risk."

Final name suppression was granted "by the slimmest of margins", Justice Ronald Young said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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