Tue. Dec 7th, 2021

A Perth judge has been called upon to impose a suspended prison sentence on a mother who put bleach in her sick baby’s feeding tube, where her lawyers argued it was “a cry for help”.

Brooke Evelyn Lucas, 29, pleaded guilty to committing an act that would likely endanger her then 13-month-old son William.

William was born with the Pierre Robin sequence, which can affect a child’s ability to feed and breathe, requiring round-the-clock care.

He was fed through two tubes that went into his stomach and small intestine, and in December 2018, Lucas poured about 30 milliliters of bleach into the one containing milk.

The Supreme Court was told that Lucas then sat with the child, who initially slept but woke up vomiting.

Lucas ‘felt relieved’ after putting bleach in the feeding tube

Prosecutor Laura Chrisitan SC told the court that the boy’s father entered the room and noticed a strong smell of bleach before Lucas called an ambulance and then told paramedics that her four-year-old daughter was responsible for what had happened.

Mrs Christian said two weeks later Lucas went to the police station early in the morning and admitted what she had done.

In an interview with detectives, Lucas said that at the time she “needed a break and a good night’s sleep”, and after putting the bleach in the tube, she had “felt relieved and relaxed”.

Ms Christian said there were also signs that she had previously investigated bleach poisoning on her phone.

A woman covers her face as she leaves the court flanked by journalists
The court heard that Brooke Lucas initially tried to blame the incident on her four-year-old daughter. (ABC News)

The incident was a ‘cry for help’, the court heard

Lucas lawyer Karen Farley SC said at the time that her client was suffering from mental health issues, which had weakened her ability to make calm and rational choices.

She said Lucas had no intention of seriously harming William, and at the time, she had simply wanted him to sleep.

Mrs Farley said the offense should be seen in the context of a mother who cared for a very ill child and who felt she was not getting enough help and was not being supported.

It was argued that Lucas had regretted her actions since the day of the offense and that, although she could not explain why she had done what she did, she had punished herself since.

The court was told while William became seriously ill from the bleach, it would not have killed him and he “thrived” now.

Mrs Farley also said Lucas was now banned from having contact with his daughter and William, who the court heard had only spent 70 days of his life outside the hospital.

“The consequences of her actions have been extreme and continue to have an ongoing effect on this family,” Farley told the court.

“She has struggled to live with that.”

While Farley urged Judge Joseph McGrath to show compassion to his client and impose a suspended prison sentence, Ms Christian argued that an immediate prison sentence was necessary.

She highlighted that Lucas had initially blamed her daughter and also that she had taken almost two hours to call an ambulance to help her son.

Justice McGrath will convict Lucas, who is currently on bail, later this week.

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