A Hunter mother who failed to get medical attention for her seriously injured 20-month-old daughter for nearly five hours as the toddler's condition deteriorated and she ultimately died says she "constantly" wonders if there was anything she could have done to help the girl.
And the mother, who in March was found guilty of manslaughter by criminal negligence in relation to the young girl's death, said since the verdict she had been subjected to repeated abuse, online and in person, which made "going to the shops extremely difficult".
"Not a day goes by that I don't think of [the girl], that I don't think of that day," the mother, who cannot be identified, said during a sentence hearing in Newcastle District Court on Friday. "I have so many unanswered questions. Why her, why my beautiful little girl. I constantly think about my actions that day. Is there something that I could have done, could I have known."
The young girl died about 6pm on June 19, 2018, after earlier that day suffering multiple blunt force trauma injuries at the hands of Timothy Whiteley.
Whiteley, who was found guilty of murdering the girl after a trial in 2020, was earlier this year jailed for a maximum of 35 years in Newcastle Supreme Court.
Justice Stephen Rothman found that, in only a few short minutes while he was alone in a bedroom with the 20-month-old girl, Whiteley "snapped" and in a "spontaneous outburst" of extreme violence inflicted multiple blows on the defenceless child before possibly throwing the toddler into a chest of drawers.
And then, moments later, the young girl was carried from the room. She was lifeless, not responding, floppy and her eyes were rolling back in her head.
At that point, the girl's mother had a choice.
She could call triple-zero, almost certainly triggering further investigation from police as well as Family and Community Services (FACS). Or she could take a risk; monitor the child at home and hope her condition improved. The girl's mother decided to take a risk.
And, as the prosecution said, over the next five hours she put her own self-interest over that of her child's medical needs, breached the duty of care she owed her daughter and failed the "reasonable person test".
The girl's injuries were, at least initially, survivable and in failing to get her medical attention, the mother had significantly contributed to her daughter's death.
During her evidence on Friday, the mother was asked by barrister Terry Healey what impact the jury's guilty verdict had on her.
"The impact that it has had on me has been extremely significant," the mother said. "I have struggled greatly. My mental health has been affected. I've become severely depressed, suffered anxiety. I have sleepless nights, reoccurring memories, nightmares. I have been subjected to online abuse. I have been subjected to abuse from public, which has made tasks such as going to the shops extremely difficult."
Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, will sentence the mother in Newcastle District Court on June 23.