Drug mum’s shocking neglect of son
A two-year-old boy at the centre of a shocking neglect case remained unconscious after he was deliberately dropped off a swing and no ambulance was called, a South Australian court has heard.
When another person called for help, the "malnourished" boy was taken to hospital and more than 60 separate bruises were found "over all parts" of his body.
His mother, Kira Leanne McCallum, has pleaded guilty to criminal neglect after she failed to intervene when abuse was allegedly inflicted upon her son.
The District Court heard on Friday her use of ice had spiralled out of control at the time, but she has not used the drug for a year.
A co-accused, the man who allegedly dropped the boy off the swing, has pleaded not guilty to two charges and will stand trial.
Prosecutor Damian Cunningham said the child appeared unconscious when the man took him to a friend's house in March 2019 and an ambulance was called.
He said the man told his friend the child had fallen, but told another person that he had deliberately pushed the victim off a swing.
The boy was taken to the Flinders Medical Centre, where 65 separate bruises or regions of bruising where discovered on his body.
"When the victim was assessed, he had bruises on his face, jaw, chin and neck … over all parts of his body, essentially," Mr Cunningham said.
"The differing colours of those bruises suggested they were of differing ages."
The court heard underlying muscle damage to many parts of the child's body was the result of "injury caused by forceful gripping and impacts".
He said it was not alleged McCallum inflicted any of the harm herself.
However, she continued to allow the man access to her son, made attempts to conceal the bruising from others and failed to seek medical attention.
Kathryn Waite, for McCallum, told the court her client, now 35, had been "entrenched in a cycle of (domestic) violence" for many years, and had a lifelong pattern of returning to controlling men.
She and her two children - the young boy and an older girl - were living in Morphett Vale but she began to fall behind with her bills and rent and was at risk of being evicted.
The court heard she and the co-accused had become friends largely due to their mutual drug use and he asked if the family would like to take over his lease because he was about to go to jail.
McCallum and the children moved in, however he did not move out as she expected.
"She believed (the man) had taken an interest in her family and had the welfare of her and her children at heart," Ms Waite said.
"She was very wrong about that.
"Ms McCallum has let (the man) take over her life … with devastating consequences."
The court heard the man believed McCallum was not strict enough with her son and said that explained why he was "naughty" and non-verbal.
He took over the discipline of the child, including showering and nappy changing.
Ms Waite said McCallum admitted she "wasn't the best parent" at the time.
"She would give (the boy) everything he wanted and she therefore responded to (the man's) suggestion that she did not discipline him enough," she said.
"Because he was a fussy eater, a food refuser, Ms McCallum would just give him milk, because that's what he wanted.
"That explains the malnourishment of (the boy) upon his presentation at the hospital."
Ms Waite said McCallum did not agree with the way the man was treating her son, and there was evidence that at times she raised the issue with him but she "used more drugs and became more absent".
She said her client had worked hard to turn her life around and her son was now developing at a normal rate.
Both prosecution and defence agreed it would not be in the best interests of the child to jail McCallum and the case will return to court next month.
McCallum made no comment to the media as she left court with her lawyer.*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Drug mum's shocking neglect of son, 2