Vegan Parents Of Malnourished Toddler Sob At Their Sentencing
The parents of a toddler fed a vegan diet and left severely malnourished in Sydney have avoided jail.
Instead the couple have been sentenced to 300 hours of community service.
The pair cried as their sentence was read out with the father audibly sobbing at one stage.
The parents, who can't be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child causing danger of serious injury.
They were sentenced on Thursday by Judge Sarah Huggett to an 18-month intensive corrections order in Downing Centre District Court.
The child, was removed from her parents’ care in March 2018, after being taken to the Sydney Children’s Hospital suffering a seizure.
The girl, now aged three, was so malnourished by the time she was 19 months old she didn't have any teeth and looked like she was just three months old.
Doctors found her to be extremely malnourished, with rickets, fragile bones and deficiencies in vitamin A, iron, zinc, calcium, and B12. Her levels of vitamin D were almost undetectable.
In a victim’s impact statement read to the District Court in May the little girl’s temporary foster carer described her shock when meeting the child in hospital for the first time.
The youngster had been kept on a strict diet since birth by her vegan parents, which included items such as oats and rice milk, and no meat or dairy.
Her bones were so weak, they could break from what specialists described as “normal handling”.
The parents also did not officially register the girl’s birth, did not immunise her, did not list her on a Medicare card, or even name her for two weeks after she was born.
She also suffered from a preventable bone disease and was not vaccinated.
During a May court appearence, the father's lawyer blamed the mother for the children's diets.
"He is not -- and was not -- a vegetarian or vegan," barrister Frank Coyne said at the time when referring to the father.
He ate meat and dairy when he was outside the home.
"His then-partner was the primary carer of [the girl].
"[The father] was working to support his family as the sole financial provider."
NSW District Court Judge Sarah Huggett was not impressed.
"But she wasn't walking or talking," Her Honour said of the malnourished girl.
"Your client is an educated man. He must have realised she wasn't reaching the milestones she should have.
"He's a mature man. He could have picked up that child and gone to a doctor."
Now living with other family members in Queensland, the child's physical health and mental development have improved.