Mother who made son swallow battery jailed

She attempted to suffocate her son and made him swallow a button battery.
She attempted to suffocate her son and made him swallow a button battery. Photo credit: Getty

The woman in this story cannot be named or her picture shown by order of the High Court.

A mother who attempted to suffocate her son and made him swallow a button battery has been sentenced to seven years and one month in jail on Tuesday.

In sentencing, Justice Peters said there were not many cases that could be used as a sentence indication because the "offending is so unusual".

Medical experts have concluded the mother suffered from "factitious disorder imposed on another" - previously known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

This is a very rare condition which involves producing or feigning symptoms in another person.

Crown prosecutors called her treatment of her children 'medical abuse' and said during the sentencing hearing that "it was one of the most serious for that class of case". Mark Harborow said her son "very nearly died and that is a significant factor".

In September, a High Court jury found the woman guilty on six of the charges of ill treatment of a child, and not guilty of two charges of ill treatment or neglect of a child.

Police began investigating the mother in October 2015 after her son was taken to hospital struggling to breathe. She had taken three videos of him on her phone to show the medical staff.

Crown prosecutors say this was because she "thrived on interacting with medical professionals. She thrived on the buzz of the emergency".

Later, while she was on a supervised visit of her children, the mother caused her son to ingest a button battery.

The crown says this was an attempt to paint her ex-partner in a bad light as the children were in his care at the time.

The two charges she was acquitted of were in relation to her daughter, after it was claimed the woman had presented her daughter more than 80 times between 2012 and 2014 for alleged fevers, seizures and rashes.

Defence lawyer Susan Gray says, while in custody, the mother has already been assaulted by more than one prisoner and is in voluntary segregation.

"She has wide ranging and debilitating mental health issues which will clearly make life in prison difficult. She has dysfunctional and abnormal personality traits," said Ms Gray.