Thursday, December 13, 2007

Mothers who kill, but get off lightly................

I saw this story in todays paper and it follows on from my last post. Here we are faced with a mother who kills their child, but once again we are told that because she was depressed this makes her less culpable for the killing.

This is just another example of the way the law provides special treatment to women.

Mother smothers five year old to death
Christine Kellett
| December 14, 2007 - Brisbane Times

A Brisbane mother taped her five year-old daughter's mouth and smothered her to death with a pillow because she "wanted some peace", a court has heard.

Alice Maree Potter, 43, lured pre-schooler Stephanie Brummer into the bedroom of her Eagleby home on September 18, 2005 with the promise of playing a game, before kneeling on the child's face for 20 minutes until she stopped breathing.

The mother of three later told police she had killed her daughter, an alleged victim of sexual abuse, because she was a "spoilt brat" who wouldn't do what she was told.

Potter was yesterday afternoon jailed for a minimum of three years after pleading guilty to one count of manslaughter.

An original murder charge was downgraded on the grounds that Potter had been suffering at the time from a major depressive episode which legally diminished her responsibility.

Brisbane's Supreme Court heard Potter was struggling to care for Stephanie and her two year-old son on her own after leaving her marital home amid allegations Stephanie had been raped.

The child also had significant learning difficulties, could barely speak, and would throw tantrums lasting as long as two hours, Potter's defence counsel submitted.

However, Crown prosecutor Sal Vasta said the child's problems made Potter's crime all the more heinous.

"She turned to the only person on whom she could rely," Mr Vasta said of Stephanie.

"That trust was betrayed by this woman."

Potter, who has already spent more than two years in custody on remand, was expressionless as the facts of the case were read out.

The court heard she had considered killing Stephanie the night before the event, but had intially decided against it.

After returning from an early morning shopping trip, she put her youngest son to sleep and asked Stephanie to follow her into a bedroom to play a game.

Once inside, she wrapped masking tape around the little girl's mouth, laid her on the floor and pressed a pillow into her face with her hands and knees, smothering her to death.

She then rang her husband and asked him to come and collect her son.

"I love you," her husband told her, to which Potter replied: "I don't think you will after you see what I've done."

The court heard the man arrived at the Eagleby commission house to find his step-daughter dead on the floor "lying on her back like a starfish".

"She just won't do what I tell her," Potter explained.

"She just keeps being naughty.

"She's a spoilt brat."

Police were called three hours after Potter committed the killing.

Doctors later diagnosed her with depression and a personality disorder which had affected her ability to reason right from wrong.

Justice Debra Mullins accepted Stephanie had exhibited difficult behaviour, and her complaints of being sexually abused had only added to her mother's stress.

"You were unsure in your mind about the allegations that Stephanie had made ... (and) you were affected by the fact that you were with the two children in a community with no support," Justice Mullins told Potter.

"I think a sentence of eight years recognises the seriousness of the act that you committed and the fact that your defenceless child was killed by your own hands."

Justice Mullins set parole eligibility after three years behind bars, meaning Potter could walk free as early as September 18 next year, after her 815 days in pre-sentence custody is taken into account.

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