The young mother whose nine-month old baby drowned while she was chatting on Facebook today was given a two-year prison term suspended for three years.
The incident happened back in 2012, when the baby died tragically at a private residence in Cospicua. Subsequently, the 17-year-old mother was charged for the involuntary homicide of her daughter.
Magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit ruled that although she is convinced that the teenager never intended to kill her daughter, and that she suffered the greatest punishment when she lost her only child, she is still culpable for her negligence.
The incident happened on the afternoon of 31 August 2012, when the father of the nine-month old girl visited the apartment of his ex-partner to pick up his daughter. Shortly after his arrival, the child’s mother asked him to follow her upstairs, where he found the baby wet, with her forehead turning purple. The father rushed with his daughter to the polyclinic, but the nine-month old was declared dead.
The autopsy later revealed that the baby had died as a consequence of drowning.
In court, Inspector Robert Said Sarreo said that upon arriving on scene, he saw the bath filled up to the top, and what seemed like vomit in the bath.
In the bedroom, situated on the other side of the apartment, the inspector noted that the computer was on, and a chat log on Facebook was opened. The chat had started at 3:28pm till 3:31pm and then continued from 4:07pm to 4:25pm.
The investigations proved that the young mother was chatting on Facebook at the time her daughter was drowning in the bath.
In court, the probation officer of the 17-year-old explained that the young mother had spent most of her childhood in homes, because of the abusive environment in her parent’s house. For a period of time, she was also treated at Mount Carmel Hospital.
She said that the young woman had no knowledge about being a parent and she was teaching herself day by day. Yet, the mother described her daughter as being ‘the only source of happiness in her life’.
The court ruled that despite the fact that the young mother was doing her best for her daughter’s upbringing, this was not enough, and she failed to prevent the accident from happening. It said that the young mother was being negligent, when she decided to leave her baby in the bath alone, particularly to chat on Facebook.
While considering the age of the mother and her past, the magistrate said that it is maternal instinct not to leave a baby in a bath full of water.
The accused was handed down a two-year prison sentence suspended for three years, and ordered a supervision order.
Malta’s law states that someone found guilty of involuntary homicide can be charged up to four years in prison or fined up to 11,000 Euro.
Lawyers Lucio and Micheal Shriha represented the accused.
The court has banned publication of all names.