Australian Mother Charged for Locking Up and Starving 4-Year-Old Son for 12 Days

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By Reissa Su | May 13, 2014 4:44 PM EST

A woman in Australia is standing trial for reportedly starving her 4-year-old son. According to authorities, the woman had locked her son in his bedroom for 12 days and was given only food pushed under the door.

The 23-year-old mother appeared before the District Court in South Australia to face charges. She was charged with criminal neglect and endangering the life of the child. Her son had survived starvation and the neglect of his mother.

The Australian mother, whose name cannot be published for legal reasons, has denied the charge of endangering the life of her child and entered a guilty plea for the lesser charge of criminal neglect.

However, prosecutors rejected her not guilty plea for the higher charge. The father of the child, 27, was also charged with endangering the life of his son. After pleading guilty, the charge of criminal neglect was dropped.

According to reports, the court had previously heard the boy's case when he was brought to the hospital after he was found in a malnourished condition in the family's house in Adelaide in October 2013. The boy only weighed 8.3 kilogrammes or 18.3 pounds. Police who had arrived at the home had described it as a "very disturbing and distressing scene."

A witness had testified that the child was unable to stand when he was first found by police. The boy had difficulty speaking and his body shook as he tried to talk. In an interview, the father said the child was locked up in his bedroom for being naughty.

Reports said he told police "nothing bad" had happened, and they believed they were not negligent parents. When asked in an interview why the boy was locked up for so long, the father could only say that time flies fast and it was "hard to explain."

When probed by police, the father said his son was being fed with food sachets pushed under the door including biscuits and long-life custard. He said no water was given to the child because the father said the boy did know how to drink from a sippy cup. He told police they had tried teaching the boy but he "just won't snap to it."

The charge of criminal neglect comes with a maximum five years imprisonment while endangering a child in Australia has a penalty of 18 years in jail. 

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