Mason Lee: A little boy is dead, but who is really to blame?
THIS is how Queensland treated its most vulnerable. A little boy who lived a "wretched" life of pain and filth and neglect and infection and broken bones and adults who shouted at him to "shut up", that he was a "c--t".
The case of Mason Lee is both sickening and foul, a case where a little boy was so completely let down - not only by the people supposed to care for him, but by the fail safes put in place for when selfish, neglectful and terrible parents don't look after their babies.
Mason was 22 months old when a visitor to his stepfather William O'Sullivan's Caboolture home finally called an ambulance.
When paramedics arrived minutes later, they found him cold and showing signs of rigor mortis.
Paramedics and police were visibly affected by what they saw. And what they saw was a toddler who was bruised and bloated, with horrific injuries to his anal region. An autopsy would show even more.
There were traces of amphetamines in his system. A split in his small intestine that had caused faecal matter to leak into his abdominal cavity. A fractured coccyx. Bruises to his forehead, jaw, chest and abdomen and a separation of the subcutaneous tissue of his scalp.
So how did we arrive here?
In January of 2016 - months before Mason's death in June - he was taken to the Morayfield Medical Centre with a bruise to his forehead and a sore shin. The doctor was concerned enough to recommend to his mother, Anne Maree Lee, that he be taken to hospital. He wasn't.
Nearly a month later, Lee called a home doctor. Again, for his sore leg.
This time the doctor called an ambulance. Mason would spend 25 days in hospital being treated for a massive infection. He would have surgery and blood transfusions. They would also find an untreated fracture to his leg. His mother didn't really visit him at the hospital. She would later tell police her violent and possessive partner - O'Sullivan - didn't want her there, that Mason was always crying and she didn't know what to do about it.
She would lie when authorities found massive injuries to his perianal region, explaining doctors had told her it was just nappy rash.
Doctors contacted the Department of Child Safety. But, weeks after he was first admitted, in such enormous pain and trauma that he had to be given narcotic infusions, he was sent back home to his abusers.
By June, Lee was skipping out on appointments with Mission Australia. An intensive family support practitioner had spent three weeks trying to make contact with her, attending the house and leaving notes before finally alerting the Department.
O'Sullivan was often left alone with Mason. He would change most of the nappies, Lee telling hospital staff that Mason was "too active" for her to manage. Later she would change that story, saying O'Sullivan would not let her take care of him.
There can be few worse cases of neglect than this little boy who lived and died in pain, in filth, with nappies soaked in his blood, while his mother and stepfather did nothing.
It was likely June 6 when O'Sullivan struck Mason, punching him in the abdomen. It was a hard enough blow to rupture his small intestine. For five days, the little boy cried and vomited. It was during this time, according to evidence presented to court, that his coccyx was broken. Probably from someone kicking him. It was also during this time that someone pulled his hair hard enough to cause separation of the tissue on his scalp.
Audio from cameras at the home showed the adults there were sick of the crying. They shouted and swore at the dying little boy.
So after this baby was punched in the stomach, causing his intestine to split, Mason was kicked, his hair pulled and he was ignored until he died.
Now that O'Sullivan and Lee have received what so many would view as paltry jail terms, it's time to finally answer this important question: How could this happen?
It's time to have this case brought before a coroner.