'Textbook case of abuse': Baby Jamie's mom gets 20 years for her murder

2018-11-08 14:07
High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

High Court. (Duncan Alfreds, News24, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The mother of Baby Jamie, Patricia Kershnee Ishwarlall, has been handed an effective 20-year jail sentence following her conviction for murdering her 3-year-old daughter.

The Baby Jamie case was a "textbook" case of abuse - and yet no one, including a social worker who was supposed to be ensuring her safety, had intervened, the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban heard on Thursday.

"This tragic waste of life could have been prevented if the social workers had done their jobs diligently.

"How many other Baby Jamies are there out there?" Judge Mohini Moodley asked.

"The media spotlight has fallen on this family… but the statistics show there are many more."

READ: Baby Jamie's mother found guilty of her murder, other charges for abusing her siblings

Earlier this month, Moodley convicted Ishwarlall, 34, of murdering the 3-year-old by beating her on her head with her high-heeled shoe at their Chatsworth home four years ago.

Medical experts said she would have died from "fatal child abuse".

The judge also convicted her of a raft of other charges relating to ongoing abuse she and her mother Salatchie Basanich (who has subsequently died) inflicted on Jamie and some of her siblings.

The children, except for the youngest, who was just a baby at the time of the crimes, had all been fostered by Basanich when they were young.

"As the evidence showed, she would care for them only until the next one arrived and then she would discard them like dolls," the judge said.

'Older two are still traumatised'

Jamie was beaten, starved, burnt with cigarettes, had chilli powder put in her nappy and was tied to her bed at night.

Her older brother was also physically abused, and he and his older sister were forced to beg on Durban's beachfront.

Only the youngest was spared, although when she was assessed after being taken to a place of safety, she was found to be malnourished.

"The youngest one, now in Grade R, barely remembers her mother and has adapted well to her new environment. The older two are still traumatised. They refuse to have any contact with their mother and she has made no effort to contact them," Judge Moodley said.

While acknowledging that the crimes were very serious, the judge said that Ishwarlall had to be treated fairly, and "public indignation" was only one factor she had to consider.

She ruled that, while Ishwarlall, who has an IQ of 60, did not have "sub-normal intelligence", she had diminished responsibility because, following a brain injury suffered in a motor vehicle accident, she functioned as a 16- or 17-year-old.

'Rehabilitation commences with remorse'

Judge Moodley said this constituted a "substantial and compelling" circumstance to deviate from the legislated minimum sentences as set down by law.

"I am also mindful that the accused should not be sacrificed on the altar of deterring others from committing such crimes… but, at the same time, the court must show that punishment will be meted out."

Another factor was that Ishwarlall had consistently denied the charges against her, claiming "ignorance" and blaming her mother.

"Rehabilitation commences with remorse," the Judge said.

Taking into account that Ishwarlall had already spent four years in jail awaiting trial, Judge Moodley sentenced her to 33 years, but ordered that some of the sentences run concurrently with others, making it an effective 20-year sentence.

"This has been an incredibly hard case," she said, thanking senior State advocate Cheryl Naidu and defence advocate Murray Pitman for their input.

KEEP UPDATED on the latest news by subscribing to our FREE newsletter.

- FOLLOW News24 on Twitter

Read more on:    durban  |  child abuse  |  crime

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
/News
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.