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Parents starved daughter to death

The parents of an autistic seven-year-old girl who weighed barely 9 kilograms were yesterday convicted of starving their daughter to death in Australia.

A New South Wales Supreme Court jury found the 35-year-old mother guilty of murder and convicted her husband, 48, of manslaughter in the child's November 2007 death.

The couple, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied murdering their daughter.

The prosecution said the girl died as a result of long-lasting starvation and neglect. Several doctors testified she suffered the most severe case of malnutrition they had seen.

The jury heard that the girl had the bone development of a five-year-old at the time of her death. One expert said the child's head resembled a skull wrapped in skin.

Police alerted

The girl died at home, and police were alerted when the father called emergency services to report her death.

He blamed the mother for the death, saying she was solely responsible for the girl's care.

During the trial, the mother told the jury the idea that her daughter could die "never entered my head." Her lawyer, Dennis Stewart, described his client as a prescription drug addict who could not cope with day-to-day matters.

The mother will be sentenced today while the father's lawyer asked for six weeks to allow psychiatric reports to be prepared.

The couple's three other daughters remain in protective custody. Their condition when they were taken from their parents is not known.


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