By Calvin Palmer
A jury heard today that a mother accused of the starvation murder of her seven-year-old daughter was unable to resuscitate the child on the morning of her death because black vomit and ants were coming out her mouth.
Crown Prosecutor Peter Barnett took more than hour to outline the case against the 37-year-old mother and her 46-year-old husband on the opening day of their trial at the New South Wales Supreme Court sitting in East Maitland.
The girl died at the family home in Hawks Nest on November 3, 2007.
The woman and her husband, who cannot be named for legal reasons, have pleaded not guilty to murdering their daughter.
The jury of six men and six women were warned that some of the photographic evidence to be presented during the trial could be as confronting as Nazi Germany holocaust images.
In his opening address Barnett said the 3ft 6ins girl went from a healthy 44 pounds to 19 pounds and died from “long-lasting starvation and neglect”.
The child’s face was distorted because of chronic malnutrition and emaciation and her tiny body stank of urine and other odors, even after it had been bathed at the morgue.
“The eyes had lost eyeball pressure and had sunk due to dehydration and lack of fat around the eye sockets,” Barnett said.
“There was a total depletion of body fat . . . indicating chronic or long-lasting starvation.”
One gastroenterologist, who will provide expert testimony, has said it was the worst case of malnutrition he had ever seen.
On the morning of the girl’s death, the woman spent hours trying to revive her but was unable to do so.
“There was a black vomit. Bull ants were coming out of her mouth. She was hitting them away, forcefully hitting them away,” said Barnett.
The mother sang to her daughter’s body for up to three hours then took 20 Panadol tablets and three Valium and went to bed because she “could not cope with what was going on around her”.
The father called the emergency number and when ambulance officers arrived, they noticed a strong smell of urine coming from the child’s room. They allegedly found the girl lying on her side on a stained mattress, her clothes sodden with urine.
The court also heard the child’s father told police he couldn’t understand her dying from starvation when he “fed her like anything”.
He told police he put her weight loss down to getting used to her new home at Hawks Nest and missing some of her toys which had been left behind in Sydney.
The trial, before Justice Robert Hulme, continues.