THE mother of a 12-year-old girl who was tortured and brutally murdered by her stepfather in the Hunter in 2015 has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the basis she did nothing to stop the attacks.
The woman, who cannot be named because it would identify the young girl, was due to face the first day of an estimated week-long trial in Newcastle Supreme Court on Monday, where she was expected to run a defence of duress, claiming she had been the victim of “battered wife syndrome”.
But the woman, who was represented by barrister Janet Manuell, SC, and solicitor Mark Ramsland, was re-arraigned before Justice Peter Hamill on Monday morning and changed her plea.
“Guilty, Your Honour,” the woman said softly, surrounded by family in the rear of the court.
Crown prosecutor Lee Carr did not apply to have the woman’s bail revoked, meaning she will remain on conditional liberty until a two-day sentence hearing later this week.
The girl’s stepfather was last week jailed for a maximum of 37-and-a-half years, with a non-parole period of 28 years after he pleaded guilty to murdering the girl between September 20 and 22, 2015. He will be eligible for parole in 2043, at the age of 59, when he will be deported to his homeland in Africa.
The man tortured the girl for three days; trying her to a bed, repeatedly beating her with pieces of wood and then rubbing salt and vinegar into her wounds.
And eventually, after suffering more injuries than was possible to count, the young girl “gave up” and died.
During sentencing for the girl’s stepfather, Justice Hamill noted that the mother was playing the poker machines at a Hunter bowling club on one of the days the girl was being brutally bashed.
The mother found the girl’s body in the family home the following morning.
Justice Hamill said the girl’s stepfather began assaulting the woman in 2011 before turning his focus to the young girl.
He continued the regular beatings for years until the girl was “tortured” and murdered over three days in September, 2015.