Killer mum ‘knew’ she caused injuries, court told
The mother of Tyrell Cobb did not seek help for her four-year-old son when he was sick and bruised because she knew she was responsible for his injuries, a prosecutor has claimed.
Crown prosecutor Philip McCarthy QC has asked Supreme Court Justice David Boddice to sentence Heidi Strbak to no less than nine years' jail for the 2009 manslaughter of her son.
Strbak's defence counsel, Saul Holt QC, proposed she be given a head sentence of six years, to be immediately suspended, as she already has spent three years in custody.
Heidi Strbak, 37, is being resentenced, after she successfully appealed an earlier nine-year jail term in the High Court.
Strbak pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Tyrell, who died from blunt force injuries to his abdomen, only on the basis that she failed to seek medical treatment for her son.
Justice David Boddice has to decide whether Strbak, or her then-partner Matthew Scown, inflicted the fatal blow to the young boy, based on circumstantial evidence against each of them.
Mr McCarthy said during the contested sentence that Strbak had sought to conceal the true nature of her son's injuries on the weekend of May 23 and 24, 2009.
He said when Tyrell was younger and he had hurt his finger in a toy box or tripped over at kindergarten, Strbak had taken him to hospital.
Mr McCarthy said there was a reason Strbak did not seek medical help for him on the weekend of May 23 and 24 in 2009.
"Her son is vomiting green bile and is covered in bruises and she doesn't go anywhere near any physicians," Mr McCarthy said.
"That is a remarkable position for a mother to take.
"The explanation is that she knew she bore some responsibility for the injuries her son had,"
Mr McCarthy said on the evidence of a paediatrician, Tyrell would have been suffering considerable pain in the course of that weekend.
He said the injuries to Tyrell would not have been fatal if he had received appropriate medical attention.
He said Strbak demonstrated indifference to her son's condition on that weekend and she had concealed his true condition to others likely to implore her to get assistance.
Mr McCarthy said the breach of trust and departure of the standard of care expected of a mother, to protect and care for her son, was egregious and remained difficult to comprehend.
Saul Holt QC said in final submissions the circumstantial case against Scown as having inflicted the fatal blow was stronger than the circumstantial case against Strbak.
He said the evidence in fact demonstrated that Scown inflicted the blows and other injuries to the boy.
Mr Holt pointed to lies that Scown had told, and said the only person who had ever previously caused blunt force trauma to Tyrell was Scown, who had kicked him hard enough to bruise him.
He questioned why Strbak would have taken the risk of asking Tyrell, in front of Scown, about his abdominal bruise on the Sunday morning, if she had inflicted the injury.
Mr Holt said it went against common sense or concealment.
He said there had to be a difference in sentencing between that imposed for a person who inflicted the blow and that for a person who failed to get medical attention.
He said while Strbak's conduct in not seeking medical attention fell below the standard required of a parent, it was a failure she had already spent three years in prison being punished for.
In 2017, Scown was sentenced to four years in prison for Tyrell's manslaughter but was immediately released, because he had already served two years and eight months in custody.
Justice Boddice said he would give his reasons and sentence Strbak as soon as possible.*For 24-hour domestic violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.
Originally published as Killer mum 'knew' she caused injuries, court told