A New South Wales mother accused of drowning her five-year-old son was relieved to attend the boy's surviving police interview because of her "bizarre" behavior in court.
Deniliquin's 28-year-old wife, who can not be named for legal reasons, is being tried for the murder of her youngest son and the attempted murder of her eight-year-old son on the Murray River in Moama in March. 2 of 2017.
In Wagga Wagga's court this morning, the woman sat in the dock for the second consecutive day after being found innocent on two counts of mental illness yesterday. She was constantly twisting her ponytail and rocking back and forth with her hands outstretched and kneeling, crying, occasionally holding the white plastic bag, towel, or water bottle placed next to her.
Defense attorney Eric Wilson SC licensed his client during the police interviews recorded after the murder because "sometimes she struggles with the emotion of the material's content." He said he was worried the accused would lose focus if she was distressed.
Judge Richard Button noted that the woman was crying, "entwining her hair" and "rocking back and forth" throughout the process. He described the suggestion that she remain "role playing" as "formalist" before granting permission for her to return to the cells.
"As soon as they finish playing, she should go back to the dock," Button said.
Earlier today, the trial alone judged that the woman had threatened to "drive with her and the boys to a tree" by 2015. The mother of the defendant, Robyn Cooper, reported the incident to police at the time, according to the court.
The NSW Supreme Court heard yesterday that the woman was on parole supervised after being released from prison, in aggravated breakdown and entry and drug offenses, a month before the incident.
In his opening address, prosecutor Max Pincott said on the morning of the murder that the woman looked angry and called his mother from the Victorian town of Goornong and told her, "You will not see us again."
A few hours later, the accused took his five- and eight-year-old sons to the riverbank and forced them to submerge, he heard the court.
A witness who heard screams ran into the river and saw the older boy being violently attacked by a dog. He took it away and the boy said the words to the effect of "I think I am the only survivor," the trial was judged alone. Another man saw the woman floating backwards into the river shortly thereafter. On Tuesday, the court heard that the accused was trying to kill himself.
The child was taken to hospital with serious injuries and spent the next three days on a ventilator because he developed severe pneumonia due to attempted drowning. The court heard that he told the police, "Mom told me to put my head and she buried me there and I was starting to choke when she was jumping on top of me and then I left and my mother plunged into my brother and the dog started to bite me. "In a statement, a witness said the boy was" screaming and naked (and) covered in blood "
The lifeless body of his five-year-old brother was found in the river two days later, after an extensive search for the authorities.
On the night of the crime, local resort owner Michael Falzon saw the woman walking in her soggy, bleeding and crying workplace at around 9pm.
Pincott said the witness noted that the woman's pants were ripped below the knee and asked if she was okay.
"She replied," I drowned my babies, "Pincott said.
"When asked about what she meant, she replied," I had to drown my babies. "
In a statement, Mr. Falzon said the defendant told him, "I just want a bullet, I should be dead."
Mr. Falzon took the woman to the police station at her request.
"He observed on the way to the police station the defendant was crying and saying" my babies, my babies, "Pincott told the judge.
The court heard that the woman told the police, "I killed my children …" I did not want to do that. I'm such an old mother. "
Pincott said that when police asked where her children were, she was upset and shouted, "I drowned them." The court heard that she referred to a former partner with whom she had no contact since 2016.
"F ** k that c ** t need to be shot," she told the officers, the court heard.
In his opening address, defense counsel Eric Wilson SC said his client believed she was saving her children by killing them.
"She was keeping them safe their honor," he said.
The court heard that she was delirious and believed that she would be "raped, tortured … and had to prevent her children from witnessing this … or they themselves would be killed."
"She was suffering from a seriously disturbed mental state," Wilson said.
"She thought she was saving them from being killed (in a worse way).
"She believes she really kept them safe."
Judge Richard Button said it was "very bizarre to say that to save the children they must kill them."
Crown witness Jonathon Adams, a forensic psychiatrist who evaluated the murder accused, told the court that she appeared to have borderline personality disorder and was probably suffering from delusional beliefs at the time of the alleged offense.
"I think she has borderline personality disorder, a longstanding substance abuse disorder and a likely major depressive disorder," said Dr. Adams.
"It seemed to me that his mental state was deteriorating in the four weeks prior to the alleged offense."
The court heard that the woman had a history of drug abuse but that toxicology reports showed that she had no traces of illicit substances in her system at the time of her arrest.
Dr. Adams said his patient told him that he used the drug ice once – to commemorate his birthday – in the four weeks between his release from prison and the drowning of his children.
She also was not taking the antipsychotic medication prescribed since she was released from prison in February, the judge was told. In the days leading up to the alleged murder and attempted murder, the woman was seen shouting to herself: "You idiot **", "idiot b ** ch" and "I'm going to kill you." She was also caught stealing on two occasions during that time. The woman's mother, who was taking care of the boys, had taken a seized violence order (AVO) on her daughter, which prohibited her from approaching within 24 hours of using illegal drugs or alcohol.
The court heard that the woman was subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a child and as an adult and that she had a family history of schizophrenia.
Dr Adams said she has been "plagued" by voices in her head since the age of seven. In one report, he noted that she had been self-injuring since she was nine, first overdose at age 13 and attempted suicide dozens of times. He said years of chronic substance abuse worsened her condition and she recently tried to starve herself behind the bars.
The trial continues.