Parents jailed over toddler’s ‘beyond tragic’ death
A toddler who was held under scalding water died five days later in immense pain from septic shock because her parents failed to seek medical help, a court has heard.
Maddilyn-Rose Stokes was weeks away from her third birthday when her father held her under hot running water in the bath after she soiled her nappy in their Northgate unit in May 2017.
Over the next five days, the burns on her tiny body became infected and Maddilyn-Rose developed sepsis and stopped breathing - the slow deterioration unfolding in front of her parents' eyes.
Shane David Stokes, 33, and Nicole Betty Moore, 26, appeared in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday where they were jailed for the "beyond tragic" circumstances of their daughter's death.
"None of it should have happened," Justice David Jackson said.
"Your abject failures to carry out your duties as parents at any time after she was burned caused her death. That conduct is incomprehensible.
"It's horrifying to contemplate the suffering your daughter endured at your hands. All right-thinking people must be revulsed by it."
The court heard that the two-year-old was burnt on her back, buttocks, groin and legs after she was held in the bath on the afternoon of May 20, 2017.
"Maddilyn-Rose would have experienced immediate pain, she would have screamed and cried at the time that the wounds were inflicted," Crown prosecutor Sarah Farmden said.
Instead of calling for medical help, the couple researched burns online, bandaged her wounds and Stokes gave her an antidepressant drug to quieten her.
Moore only called Triple-0 when Maddilyn-Rose stopped breathing about 4pm on May 25.
"She would have been in great misery and pain over that period of five days," Ms Farmden said.
"She would have been dehydrated and weak, unable to eat or drink properly, possibly vomiting, she might have become delirious and unconscious."
Ms Farmden said that Maddilyn-Rose was briefly resuscitated by paramedics but was placed in an induced coma when she arrived at Lady Cilento Children's Hospital and died later that night.
The two-year-old's wounds were grossly infected and soiled and she also had a broken tooth and bruising on her forehead.
Ms Farmden told the court that it was not the first time Stokes and Moore had failed their daughter.
When she was eight-months-old, Maddilyn-Rose was rushed to hospital with severe malnourishment.
She recovered and was returned seven weeks later to Stokes and Moore, who were sentenced to 18 months' probation for failing to provide the necessities of life.
Barristers told the court the pair had done their "incompetent best" to care for Maddilyn-Rose and feared Department of Child Safety intervention.
Moore had wanted to call Triple-0 but she had been dissuaded by Stokes, the court heard.
"She wanted to call an ambulance and yes she should have revisited this again and again as things progressively declined," barrister Lars Falcongreen said.
"But … she feared her daughter would be taken from her by the department and she deluded herself that her daughter would get better."
Barrister Eoin Mac Giolla Ri told the court that the pair were "stuck in a cycle of increasing symptoms".
"As the need to call the ambulance increased, the consequences for them calling the ambulance also increased," Mr Mac Giolla Ri said.
The couple both pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child cruelty, and Stokes pleaded guilty to the additional charge of grievous bodily harm.
Justice Jackson said the couple had never given a full account of what transpired over those five days and Stokes had never admitted to burning his daughter.
"Your concerns were for yourselves at her expense, it cost your daughter's life," he said.
"The initial decision was culpable enough but the culpability was compounded over and again as her condition worsened.
"The greatest tragedy in all of these events is that if you had promptly taken her to hospital or called triple 0 her life would have been saved and she would have received proper pain relief."
Stokes was sentenced to 11 years' jail and Moore was sentenced to nine and a half years' jail.
No parole eligibility date was set.
Originally published as Parents jailed over toddler's 'beyond tragic' death