A REDBANK mother of two wept in Ipswich District Court as she was reminded of the excessive and cruel punishments she had administered to her young niece.
The 39-year-old - who could not be named to protect the victim's identity - was sentenced on Monday to nine months jail but released on parole for the offences committed against her niece.
During sentencing, Judge Sarah Bradley recounted how the woman punished her niece by clamping a hot hair straightener on the young girl's fingers.
Judge Bradley further mentioned instances where the woman forced the girl's head under water and held a knife to her throat.
On one occasion the woman also made her niece stay outside during winter while she poured jugs of water over her.
The offences occurred between 2008 and 2010. The girl was aged between seven and 10 at the time.
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The girl and her sister had been placed in their aunt's care initially as a short-term measure to avoid her being put into state care. The offences were revealed when the girl told a school counsellor.
Earlier this month, the woman pleaded guilty to armed assault occasioning bodily harm as well as four counts of common assault.
Judge Bradley said while her niece may have been a difficult child, the woman's methods of punishment were excessive and cruel. She said the aunt's behaviour had caused her niece significant distress whereby she had terrible nightmares and became suicidal.
A mental evaluation report by psychologist Peter Perros said the woman was intellectually disadvantaged and had difficulty in stressful situations.
Dr Perros said the woman had been unwell psychologically for most of her life and had a significant history of depression and anxiety disorder.
He said the woman claimed no memory of the behaviour and expressed remorse.
Dr Perros said the woman had been looking after her nieces as well as her own two children and could not cope with the overwhelming stress.