Lice-infested boy found ‘barking like dog’


Mum jailed for criminal neglect after toddler son found lice-infested, ‘barking like a dog’

A boy was found abandoned at a house with rotten teeth and Coca-Cola in his baby bottle in a shocking case of child neglect. WARNING: Distressing

WARNING: Distressing content

A toddler abandoned by his mother at a home with several drunk adults was found barking like a dog and infested with lice in a horrific case of child neglect.

The two-year-old boy was also covered in sores, his teeth were decayed and his nappy was heavily soiled.

A baby bottle containing Coca-Cola was found at the house, but his mother could not be located.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was contacted after he was taken to hospital for treatment and was later charged with criminal neglect.

She pleaded guilty and was on Monday sentenced to two years, six months behind bars, with a non-parole period of 12 months.

District Court judge Paul Muscat said the Department for Child Protection had been made aware of concerns about the woman’s ability to care for her child.

“Various notifications indicated a history of a lack of supervision, drug and alcohol abuse by you, concerns over (the child’s) development, and of you not seeking appropriate medical treatment for him,” he told her.

“Which, it was noted, was all occurring while you yourself were the victim of ongoing domestic violence at the hands of your partners.”

But it was the boy’s grandmother who raised the alarm, after the mother and the child arrived at her house in Adelaide in October 2018.

“She noticed that (the child) appeared to be underweight, and his hair appeared to be infested with lice,” Judge Muscat said.

“There were scabs and sores over his face and body.

“When she removed his nappy she observed there were raw sores around his groin.”

The grandmother bought antibiotic cream and booked an appointment to see a doctor the following afternoon.

However, the mother and the child left the house before the appointment and did not return.

The grandmother later found an empty bottle of vodka in the mother’s bedroom and, days later, contacted police to report the pair missing.

That evening, police attended a home at Largs Bay, north of the Adelaide CBD, where they found the boy crawling on the floor.

Several “heavily intoxicated” adults were in the house at the time, and the child was in a similarly poor physical condition.

Judge Muscat said police noticed his hair was matted and lice-ridden, and he was wearing a heavily soiled nappy and a dirty top.

“Police observed that (the child) appeared unable to speak, they said he responded by barking like a dog,” he said.

He was unable to stand up, his teeth were decayed, and police found an empty baby bottle containing the remnants of Coca Cola.

The adults in the house told police the mother had been there earlier, but they did not know where she had gone.

Police called an ambulance and the boy was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital for treatment.

“When (the child) was reviewed two weeks later, there was a significant improvement in his health and wellbeing,” Judge Muscat said.

Judge Muscat said the mother had been the victim of abuse throughout her life, and has had “minimal success” in dealing with her issues.

“It seems that you have been unable to break the destructive cycle you have found yourself in throughout your sad life,” he said.

“Your situation is indeed a most tragic one.”

He said she had several physical and mental health issues including drug and alcohol abuse, and she had been violently abused by partners.

The mother was also sentenced for other offences, including assaulting a police officer and breaching bail.

She will be eligible for parole in June 2021.



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