Original article no longer available
Aug 6 2005
Liz Keen, South Wales Echo
A baby girl has been left deformed and disfigured at the hands of her depressed mother after something ‘went terribly wrong’ in the system that should have protected her, a court heard.
Cardiff Crown Court heard nurses who repeatedly saw the 34-year-old mum from the Vale of Glamorgan picking and scratching at infections on the child’s skin felt they were banging their heads against a brick wall when nothing was done to stop her.
Sometimes the wounds were so bad that bone was exposed.
Defence barrister Tim Evans told the jury: ‘It doesn’t excuse what happened but bear in mind it could so easily have been stopped.’
Mr Evans said the mother was suffering post-natal depression for the 16 months the child was repeatedly treated by health staff and in hospital both in South Wales and Great Ormond Street, London.
In hospital, the wounds would start to heal but back home they deteriorated again.
The mother admitted she had not used dressings as directed, instead using scented wet wipes on bleeding wounds and allowing cat and dog hair to get on to the broken skin.
The child is now with foster parents.
The mother, who cannot be named to protect the child, had pleaded guilty to neglect and causing grievous bodily harm, but denies a charge of causing harm with intent.
Mr Evans said: ‘It is obvious that a terrible, terrible wrong happened as far as the system meant to protect children is concerned.
‘A succession of nurses and social workers were banging their heads against a bureaucratic brick wall.’
He said the prosecution alleged she was a calculating, wicked mother, torturing her child but nurses gave evidence of seeing her showing love.
The mother was said not to be insane but had been treated with anti-depressants.
Mr Evans said her condition was a series of highs and lows with things happening to the child while she was in the depths of despair.
He told the jury: ‘The fate of the child is now in the hands of the local authority, the fate of the mother is in your hands.’
John Holmes, prosecuting, said the woman had given no logical reasonable answers when arrested but simply said everyone was either lying or mistaken.