By Calvin Palmer
A forensic pathologist told a court in New South Wales today that neglect and starvation caused the death of a seven-year-old girl in the worst case of emaciation he had seen in his 35 years experience.
Dr Kasinathan Nadesan was testifying at the New South Wales Supreme Court, sitting in East Maitland, in the trial of the girl’s parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The 36-year-old mother and 48-year-old father are accused of starvation murder of their daughter. The girl weighed just 19 pounds at the time of her death. They have pleaded not guilty.
Nadesan was called to the family’s home in Hawks Nest shortly after the child’s death on November 3, 2007.
“Decomposition had set in, the girl looked like a mummy” he said. “It was basically just skin and bone.”
The doctor told the jury that the seven-year-old had the bone development of a five-year-old, and all her organs were smaller than what should be expected in a child her age.
“The death was due to starvation and neglect,” he said. “I have not seen a level of emaciation like this in my 35 years as a doctor.”
The autopsy revealed her stomach was “completely empty” of food particles.
Nadesan said there was no evidence of insect activity, contradicting earlier claims that the child had bull ants in her mouth on the day she died.
Earlier the court heard from a neighbor in Sydney where the coupled lived before moving to Hawks Nest.
She told the jury of the foul state of the girl’s bedroom shortly after the family moved out.
There was “a lot of rubbish, things in plastic bags” as well as dirty walls, cigarette butts on the floor and a dirty bathroom. The girl’s room smelt of human waste and had “piles of feces in the corner”.
The neighbor also described a late-night conversation between the parents.
“(The father) said to (the mother), ‘what sort of f…ing mother are you?’ You know she’s not well.”
A television technician, who had been called to the Hawks Nest home two months before the girl’s death, told the court he noticed the door handle to the girl’s bedroom had been roped shut.
The trial continues.