Oberon couple sentenced for murdering three-year-old

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A mother and stepfather found guilty of murdering their three-year-old son in Oberon will be behind bars for at least thirty years after the Supreme Court handed down their sentences on Wednesday. 

Justice Johnson said that as both parents would be in their seventies before being released from jail, the sentence “may be close to a de facto life sentence.”

“I am well satisfied that this is the appropriate sentencing outcome in this case.”

The court had previously found the parents of the boy, only known as ‘Joseph’ for legal reasons, guilty of his murder after subjecting him to a horrific regime of physical and psychological abuse over several weeks.  

His mother, referred to as ‘LN’ in court, was sentenced to 44 years imprisonment with 33-year non-parole period, his stepfather ‘AW’ was sentenced to 40 years, with a non-parole period of 30 years.

Johnson said the abuse leading up to Joseph's death was an “inexplicable part of the case”.

“LN and AW were regularly abusing this little boy in their home and in their care when it would have been simple enough for them to contact the extended family who would have taken him back to Sydney without delay,” he said.

“Each of them abused him in different ways. The abuse was physical, psychological and verbal. It would have had a terrifying effect upon Joseph.”

The court heard that Joseph had been happy and healthy living with extended family in Sydney, before he moved to the home of his mother and stepfather in Oberon in 2014. Seven weeks later he was pronounced dead. 

The court heard how the Oberon couple had abused the three-year-old over weeks, including hitting Joseph multiple times with a wooden spoon, kicking him in the torso, duct taping his eyes shut and trapping him in an Esky filled with ice. 

In the days before Joseph died, his mother admitted she had rammed a cupboard door into his head because she was "so pissed off" and "just wanted to get some sleep".

Joseph’s cause of death was found to be cardiac arrest and an autopsy detected multiple blunt force trauma injuries on his body, scabs on his face and serious injuries to his spine. 

LN admitted to police that she had thoughts of killing her son because, “there was part of me that hated him … because he looked like his father.”

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