Babysitter avoids jail, parents upset

A babysitter was given a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a toddler in her care in December 2009.
A babysitter was given a suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to causing grievous bodily harm to a toddler in her care in December 2009.

A BABYSITTER who almost killed a toddler in a bathtub later sent the mother a text message saying "I drowned her on purpose, I hate her," an Ipswich court heard.

Anastasia Jane Fenech, then 17, was looking after three sisters aged between six years and 18 months at the time, while their parents went to work.

Shortly after they left, Fenech took the toddler into the bathroom, ran a bath and pushed her head under the water because she wanted to "scare" her.

Ipswich District Court heard, after about 10 seconds, she pulled the girl out of the water.

She was unconscious and not breathing.

Fenech performed CPR before calling for an ambulance as the two terrified elder girls looked at their little sister's blue and purple body.

The mother said her eldest daughter recalled seeing Fenech standing by the child with a "smile" on her face.

The child's oxygen levels had plummeted by a quarter and she was treated at the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane on a respirator and remained unconscious for two days.

Fenech made up a variety of stories as to how the child had almost drowned but 12 hours later sent a text message to the mother, 28, saying "I drowned (her) on purpose, I hate her, I'm sorry".

Crown prosecutor Noel Needham said both lungs had water in them, meaning the child had taken more than one breath under water.

Fenech pleaded guilty to causing grievous bodily harm and was sentenced to three years prison but released on immediate parole.

The mother said she believed Fenech had committed "premeditated attempted murder" because Fenech had already bashed the child's face and blamed the six-year-old neighbour.

"We believed her story because we trusted her with our children," the mother said.

"We even moved house from Leichhardt to Brassall because of what we thought the little neighbour had done.

"A couple of months later Ana (Fenech) begged us to start babysitting again because she needed the money and of course we had no reason to doubt her care - we still feel enormous guilt about that.

"But I believe because she hadn't succeeded in killing (my baby) the first time, she came back a second time to try again - it was premeditated attempted murder."

When the parents went to police to report both incidents, Fenech was questioned and finally confessed to everything.

The girl's father, 29, said the sentencing was "satisfying and surreal" but the court process made him "lose faith in the legal system".

"It would have been good to see her go away (to jail), but we never expected it - we were warned to not get our hopes up," he said.

"It's going to be hard to tell our girls that this is justice."

The mother said it was heartbreaking to know her two elder daughters had to see their sister almost die in their home.

"It's taken away their innocence as children - no child should have to see that," she said.

"My eldest girl said she remembered seeing (the toddler) lying naked and purple on the bed and Ana (Fenech) standing there looking at her and smiling," she said.

The case has bounced back and forth between the mental health court and the Ipswich Department of Public Prosecutions since the offence on December 18, 2009.

The court heard Fenech and her defence had argued she was schizophrenic, however multiple psychiatrists found her to be sane.

The mother said she and her husband were determined to see Fenech sentenced.

"If our daughter had to go through that and survive then we are proud to be here for her today," she said.

Topics:  grievous bodily harm, ipswich district court, near drowning



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