Mason Lee died from his injuries in 2016.
Mason Lee died from his injuries in 2016.

Mother’s guilty plea over Mason Lee’s death

THE mother of slain Queensland toddler Mason Jet Lee tried to blame the Department of Child Services for her own "gross negligence" in failing to acknowledge her toddler's injuries despite strangers noticing how ill he looked in the days before his death.

Caboolture mother Anne Maree Lee pleaded guilty in a Brisbane court today to killing the 22-month-old in 2016.

Lee sobbed during the arraignment in Brisbane Supreme Court this morning as she pleaded guilty to manslaughter and child cruelty.

Mason Lee died from his injuries in 2016.
Mason Lee died from his injuries in 2016.

Little Mason died a "slow and painful" death in June 2016 after Lee's boyfriend struck the boy so hard that his intestines ruptured.

Lee is accused of failing to get medical attention for Mason whose body slowly shut down in the days after William Andrew O'Sullivan punched him in the stomach.

"Medical opinion is it would have been obvious that he was very sick and in urgent need of medical attention," Prosecutor Michael Byrne told the court.

She has also pleaded guilty to child cruelty relating to claims she did not get the boy help for a fractured tibia and severe perianal injuries earlier that year.

Lee has spent much of the sentencing hearing audibly crying and putting her head in her hands.

Mr Byrne said in the months before his death, Mason was hospitalised with cellulitis and severe perianal injuries which she lied to doctors about, claiming it was nappy rash.

The prosecutor said the anal injuries were the worst the paediatrician had seen in his 40 years on the job and resembled a burn injury.

"It is in my respectful submission it is impossible to accept that a 22-month-old child who had suffered three fissures (tears) at 4mm depth to the anal skin ... would not have been displaying signs of that and nothing had been done about that," Mr Byrne said.

"To give some idea in my submission of how the child was feeling, which must have been obvious to others... at the time of his admission (to hospital) the pain was so severe he required a narcotic infusion."

Lee claimed Mason was "too active" for her to change so she left the job to O'Sullivan.

Mr Byrne said despite being warned by a doctor on January 17 that Mason appeared to have a fractured leg, Lee ignored advice to take the boy to the hospital.

Weeks later on February 12, she told a home doctor she was unaware of the leg injury.

The court heard an autopsy revealed Mason had traces of methamphetamine in his system when he died and was covered in bruises caused by "moderate to severe force".

Mr Byrne said the "apathy and neglect" shown by Lee had contributed to the toddler's tragic death.

He said "many" bloodstained nappies were found in the home by investigators.

"It can not have gone unnoticed to her that Mason was unwell," the prosecutor said.

The court heard after Mason died, Lee sought to blame the Department of Child Services for the boy's death, telling police: "If the department had done their job properly, none of this would have happened."

Mr Byrne said Lee's behaviour was a "very very large and very gross" departure from community expectations.

"Children of our community are precious, they have to be protected and especially so by their parents," he said.

"It's not just a case of inattention, it is gross negligence."

Mr Byrne said even strangers who saw Mason in the days before his death noted how ill the boy looked but his own mother claimed to have no knowledge of his injuries.

"This isn't mere inattention this is part of ongoing apathy and neglect," he said.

Mr Byrne said Mason's "tender age" was a "highly aggravating" feature of the case and that his serious injuries would have been survivable if the "one person" charged with protecting him had sought help for the "vulnerable and defenceless" little boy.

"He was incapable of surviving the ordeal he found himself in," he said.

"This child had a wretched existence in those last few days.

"It's not just a case of inattention, it is gross negligence."

"This was not a momentary or short-term failure to act or a single decision to not do anything in the best interest of the child."

The sentencing continues.



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