Can five-month-old babies be murdered and if so how?

Last time I raised this subject Richard Phillipps hopped into me suggesting that I wasn’t being helpful. In any event I’m at it again. I’ve not researched this case in any detail, but it sure looks strange on its face and the report from The Age does not appear to be sensational.

As reported by The Age father who killed his five-month-old daughter was jailed for a minimum term of five years.

Arney, of Heidelberg, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachael Arney and to recklessly causing serious injury by repeatedly punching her, in the weeks prior to her death on December 15 last year. . . .

On December 14, Rachael was distressed and vomited in a way that caused Arney concern, though he did not seek medical help, Justice Teague said.

He gave his daughter some Panadol and the next morning called an ambulance, but the girl was pronounced dead 90 minutes later.

Justice Teague said Arney initially told police he made the “odd mistake” with his daughter but gave no sign of anything serious.

He became indignant at being asked about her injuries.

Rachael died from peritonitis, arising from a ruptured part of her bowel.

She also had a fractured skull and ribs, which Arney attributed to a fall.

Justice Teague said Arney had been bullied at school, leaving him fragile and vulnerable to stress.

“Your failure to seek help meant that you were failing to recognise the inappropriateness of your self-taught method of dealing with the anger brought on by stress,” he said.

Justice Teague fixed a five-year non-parole period.

The case is quite like the other case I quoted. Lots of stuff about depression, remorse. “Justice Bernard Teague said the crimes of David Scott Arney, 25, when viewed objectively, were “monstrous” and deserved stern punishment.” In this case the Judge said there was good scope for rehabilitation. And so it was a jail term of nine and a minimum non-parole period of five years. You can read the judgement here.

In Googling the article (after hearing of the case on ABC news) I found this link to the Herald Sun. Again the reporting is deadpan and not sensationalised.

The Herald Sun has identified 12 cases where attackers inflicted horrific injuries on young children.

In each, the offenders were charged with murder but prosecutors accepted a plea of guilty to manslaughter.

All but one received sentences of less than half the 20-year maximum penalty for manslaughter. Their minimum non-parole jail terms totalled just 64 years.

. . . The father of Jonathan Guiver, 3, who was beaten to death by Mark Mietto in 2001, said the penalty for his son’s death did not fit the crime. Mietto received a minimum four-year jail term and was released this year.

Note that even here, the finding of manslaughter does not prevent the imposition of a 20 year jail term.

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Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Just to clarify, I presume from the former post that your point is that this should just be murder and should probably entail a higher sentence?

Mark Bahnisch
15 years ago

Trackback [from Gummo].

Bring Back CL's blog
Bring Back CL's blog
15 years ago

strange logic from society.
Punch a pregnant woman and kill the baby and you are charged.

Kill the an unborn baby becaue it is your ‘choice’ and no-one hears a word

Tony Healy
Tony Healy
15 years ago

These types of crime are so obscene that we should not just be looking at the issue of punishment, by which time the damage has been done.

Our society can rightly be proud of the networks of help provided to mothers and intending mothers, starting with birth preparation classes and continuing through baby and toddler checks ups and play groups.

We should extend those networks, probably in a different form, so that all intending fathers also get basic advice on what to expect with babies and toddlers. I think that would prevent a lot of these awful murders.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Yea, I agree entirely. As long as we actually tell fathers that punching a 5 kg not yet completely developed person will probably kill it, they won’t do it.

Ooops, we already do tell any expecting dads that are listening. Maybe something else is needed.

Tony Healy
Tony Healy
15 years ago

Most of these bashings seem to result from frustration by men who don’t know how to respond to babies, and aren’t familiar with the need for patience. If there was greater exposure to knowledge and culture of babies for men, there would be less likelihood of responses arising from frustration.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

And most of these rapes…

Am I the only one who finds this an incredibly lame excuse?

Tony Healy
Tony Healy
15 years ago

Patrick, in a discussion, you need to learn to listen. Nowhere have I excused the bashing or killing of babies. I would have no qualms with death penalties in these and other types of murder.

Second, you should refrain from commenting on subjects you don’t understand. Those with parenting experience will recognise the points about the learning involved in working with babies, and know about the incredibly valuable networks of care available to women (and men, but not oriented to men.) I can see from your comments that are childless and unmarried.

Third, these types of bashings and murders would not be affected by increased penalties, because they occur when men lose control. So anyone who genuinely cares about children and babies would look for solutions that protect them.

Patrick
Patrick
15 years ago

Nowhere have I excused the bashing or killing of babies.

Walked like an excuse, talked like an excuse – but I am glad you don’t. I do accept that it is quite different to identify a structural cause, which I am happy to take you as doing. I am sorry for the offence mistakenly given.

I can see from your comments that are childless and unmarried

I once said this to someone on a blog too – I felt as stupid as you should shortly after! I am glad to be able to say that I am confident that this would be greatly saddening for my wife and two children. I am equally glad to say that my comment suggesting that men did get some of what you were recommending was based on having one child in Victoria’s public health system which I, as a not-inclined-to-bashing-my-baby-average-kinda-guy, found perfectly accessable and relevant. A propos, are the full-page ‘never shake a baby’ (in about 36 pitch font) ads included in the welcome packs ‘oriented to men’, or merely insufficiently sensitive to the illiterate sector?

And to take up what I suspect is N Gruen’s general point, what about the most elementary dose of common sense and self-restraint? Do you really mean that men need training to cope with an incessantly crying baby??

Third, these types of bashings and murders would not be affected by increased penalties, because they occur when men lose control.

Hey Mr Death Penalty, I didn’t say anything about increased sentences for deterrence, but for punishment. I subscribe to the ‘people are not so stupid as that’ theory which gives deterrence some credence – ie in a world were losing control gets you 10 years of jail, less people lose control.

Tony Healy
Tony Healy
15 years ago

OK, I shouldn’t have made some of those comments. Sorry.

On this topic, clearly some men do need training in learning how to cope with babies. The various murders seem to have predictable factors, and clearly our existing systems are not reaching or not properly reaching those people.

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