Parents put social life before baby

Last updated 20:59 05/05/2009
ON TRIAL: Homeopath Thomas Sam, 42, and Manju Sam, 36, from Earlwood, are on trial in the Supreme Court charged with manslaughter

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The parents of baby Gloria Thomas, who had such severe eczema that she was constantly crying and unable to move her legs, were so fixated on their social activities that they did not bother to get medical attention for her, a court heard today.

But despite allegedly shunning conventional medical attention for the nine-month-old girl in favour of homeopathic remedies, when the mother became ill with gallstones she was rushed to a mainstream hospital.

The  Supreme Court heard today that nine-month-old Gloria would have lived if she had been treated by conventional doctors even days up until the moment her parents brought her into hospital.

Homeopath Thomas Sam, 42, and Manju Sam, 36, from Earlwood, are on trial in the Supreme Court charged with manslaughter by gross criminal negligence after their daughter, Gloria Thomas, died of septicemia in May 2002.

Gloria was not taken to the emergency department of the Sydney Children's Hospital until her skin was weeping, her body malnourished and her corneas melting, the court heard.

The Crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, told the court that, even though Gloria was suffering and clearly in pain, Manju Sam took the baby to India in February 2002 against the advice of a pediatrician, who described the journey as "cruel".

The pediatrician wanted Gloria to stay in Australia to see another specialist, but Manju Sam insisted on taking her to India because she wanted the support of her wealthy family, where servants would help look after the baby, and for citizenship reasons, Mr Tedeschi said.

Once in India, Manju Sam allegedly continued to disregard creams prescribed for the baby by conventional doctors, instead applying homeopathic drops that did not work.

In April, mother and baby were joined in India by Thomas Sam, who flew out for his brother's wedding, and the couple embarked on a manic social schedule during which time Gloria's condition became progressively worse, Mr Tedeschi said.

"The Crown case is that, during that 2½-week period while they were travelling around, Gloria's skin condition became so bad that any reasonable parent, let alone any reasonable homeopath, would have immediately taken her for urgent medical attention at either a hospital or some conventional medical practice," Mr Tedeschi said.

"Thomas and Manju continued to administer homeopathic drops while they carried out their active social life.

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"The Crown case is that they put their social obligations well ahead of any concern for Gloria's wellbeing."

Shortly before the wedding, Manju Sam developed extreme abdominal pain and, the day after the wedding, she was diagnosed with gallstones, Mr Tedeschi said. But instead of treating her with homeopathic remedies as they had done for their daughter, Manju Sam immediately went to a conventional hospital for treatment.

"Thomas Sam showed a considerable degree of fear and concern for Manju's condition in contratst to what they both showed to Gloria's condition," Mr Tedeschi said.

"The Crown case is that Gloria's health and welfare was the last thought on the minds of her parents other than to continue using homeopathic drops to treat her condition."

Mr Tedeschi said the parents arrived home from India eight days before their daughter died, and she was in such a state that passengers on the plane back to Australia noticed she was constantly crying with skin red as though it had been burnt or covered in tumours.

"From the time they arrived in Australia until they took Gloria to the Sydney Children's Hospital eight days later they were grossly negligent in failing to get proper medical care for Gloria,'' Mr Tedeschi said.

"Had they gone straight to hospital, had they got proper medical attention for Gloria when they first got back to Australia or even for several days after that, the evidence will be that Gloria would have survived.''

Four days after they arrived in Australia, Thomas Sam's sister allegedly offered to take the baby to hospital but he declined.

Later that night, the couple decided they would take the baby to hospital, but they were too tired to do it that evening and waited until after he had completed an obligation at the church the next day before going in about midday on May 5.
Immediately, the baby was categorised as in need of urgent medical attention and rushed into emergency. She died three days later.

The trial continues.


- Sydney Morning Herald

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