A battered woman who did nothing to stop her abusive partner killing her 12-year-old daughter in their New South Wales home has been jailed for at least 18 months.
Justice Peter Hamill said the mother had failed in her duty of care to protect her daughter in a case he described as one of gross criminal negligence.
The mother had failed to get her daughter away from her abusive partner, and failed to seek medical help for the girl during the four years she was beaten, tortured and eventually killed in 2015.
Sentencing the woman in the Supreme Court at Newcastle on Friday to four years’ jail with a non-parole period of 18 months, the judge said she had suffered from ‘battered wife syndrome’, but her lack of action to save her daughter was ‘bewildering’.
Justice Hamill said while the woman had suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and severe depression during the time her partner was regularly beating her and her daughter, a message had to be sent that her conduct could not be tolerated.
The woman, who was in tears after being sentenced, was allowed five minutes to say goodbye to her distraught family and friends before being led away.
The girl, whose beatings included being suspended from a beam by her hands and whipped, was found dead in her bed in September 2015 in the Hunter region.
She was buried on what would have been her 13th birthday.
The mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had been due to stand trial last week for manslaughter before deciding to plead guilty.
Her partner, 33, was jailed for a minimum 28 years after pleading guilty to murdering his stepdaughter.
The couple met in 2007 and domestic violence began in 2011 when the stepfather slapped the mother across the head. Some months later he kicked her in the stomach and dragged her by the hair.
The stepfather began to assault the woman’s two daughters in late 2011 and the violence escalated against the older girl when the family moved to a new home in 2014.
The mother would give the girls painkillers and apply antiseptic cream to the wounds. They were never taken to hospital and regularly kept out of school to allow their injuries to heal.
Two days before the older girl was found dead by her mother she had staggered into the kitchen after being brutally beaten by her stepfather.
The mother saw how the girl was dazed and struggling to walk and whispered to her, ‘Are you OK?’. The girl replied, ‘No mum’.
The mother warned her partner he was going to kill the girl before he took his stepdaughter back to her bedroom, tied her up again and beat her again.