A 46-year old mother from Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, was sentenced to 18 months in jail for child endangerment after claiming God would protect her child. The mother, whose name was withheld by the Toowoomba District Court, was charged with gross negligence in 2019 and was sentenced on July 15, 2021. The jury took just over an hour to reach a verdict.
Shontelle Petrie, the Crown Prosecutor, said that the mother has known for quite some time that her daughter is very sick and that the daughter's health has deteriorated. Despite this knowledge, the mother did not seek medical attention for the child, who was six years old at that time.
According to the court filings, the child weighed just 13.4 kilograms (~30lbs) and was very pale when her father brought her in. The child was vomiting and suffered from incontinence for two weeks before being brought to a hospital. Petrie called the case a severe breach of parental responsibility through her sentencing statement.
Experts from the Toowoomba Hospital and Queensland Children's Hospital testified in court. They explained that the child was mere hours away from dying. According to a representative from Toowoomba Hospital, the first responder, the child was unresponsive and had to be resuscitated.
The incident happened in July 2019. The mother calmly insisted that she has nothing to deny, insisting that since she is a daughter of God, she relied upon and expected that God would heal her daughter. The mother reasoned that she "never had to take my children or myself to the doctor because he (God) has promised healing to us."
Both the judge and the prosecutor chastised the remorseless mother. Petrie said that "You can't play chicken in the name of faith," adding that the mother cannot disregard her responsibility to her daughter over her religious belief.
Judge Jennifer Rosengren, through her sentencing, admonished the mother, "You extended her suffering needlessly."