Baby L's mom acquitted, boyfriend convicted

2015-01-16 14:50

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Pretoria - A Pretoria North mother was acquitted on Friday by the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria of attempting to murder and abuse her 2-year-old daughter, but her boyfriend was convicted of child abuse.

Judge Nico Coetzee acquitted the 20-year-old mother on all charges, but found her 36-year-old boyfriend guilty on a charge of child abuse, a Sapa correspondent reported.

He ruled that the State had not proved the boyfriend's intention to murder the child, known as Baby L, and acquitted him on a charge of attempted murder, and a charge of depriving the child of medical care.

Coetzee rejected the boyfriend's claims that Baby L fell down a flight of stairs and off a washing machine.

He accepted medical evidence that Baby L was abused, was hit on the head with an object, and was probably hit on the abdomen with something like a broomstick.

Baby L was in a coma when she was rushed to the Akasia hospital on 30 December 2013.

Parts of her brain had already died and she had a fractured hip, blood in her abdomen and fluid in her lungs from a near-drowning.

She also had a bruised kidney, a serious injury to her pancreas, and old and new bruises all over her body.

She had been taken to hospital but was discharged three days earlier.

Baby L is now in a vegetative state in an institution, unable to feed herself, walk or talk.

Coetzee accepted the evidence of forensic pathologist Dr Lorraine Du Toit-Prinsloo that Baby L had been abused and that her head injury, fractured hip and pancreas injury were caused by hard blows and not a fall.

He rejected the boyfriend's evidence that he left the injured child with a friend while he went out shopping shortly before she was taken to hospital.

He said there was no doubt that the boyfriend left Baby L alone in a bath for over an hour and that she almost drowned while he was out shopping.

He ruled that the boyfriend abused Baby L between 19 and 30 December 2013, resulting in her injuries.

‘Mother knew of abuse’

The State alleged that her mother was aware of the abuse and Coetzee accepted the evidence of a domestic worker that the mother was "lazy" and more interested in sleeping after working night shifts than caring for her child.

"The accused [the mother] said she could not remember what bruises she had or had not seen on her child.

"This is not surprising. She seemingly did not care about her daughter.

"It cannot be said on the evidence that she allowed the assault by accused number one [her boyfriend]. She was probably not aware of it," he said.

However, Coetzee found in the mother's favour that she was upset and insisted on a scan when Baby L was first taken to hospital on 27 December.

"She was clearly worried about the welfare of her child. She did what she had to do to care for her child.

"It cannot be said that Baby L would have received any further medical attention that day if the mother had stayed at the hospital and waited for the opinion of a neurologist," Coetzee said.

The trial continues on Monday.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  crime  |  child abuse

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