A FOUR-month-old baby was shaken to death after her teenage mum failed to turn her “skewed fantasy of a perfect family into reality”, a court has heard.
Anastasia Hand died from multiple injuries – including to her head and neck – two days after her dad found her unresponsive in her cot in Perth, Western Australia.
The baby’s mum, Cassandra Doohan, who was aged 18 when she violently shook her, has pleaded guilty to murdering the infant in May 2017.
Anastasia’s dad found her limp and “floppy” body in her cot after he came out of the shower, and had tried to resuscitate her as she was not breathing properly.
However the girl died at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth two days later, reports Australian Associated Press.
She had suffered traumatic brain and spinal injuries, as well as fractures and bruises.
Doohan, now aged 20, originally pleaded not guilty to murder, but later admitted her crime.
The Supreme Court of Western Australia in Perth, where her sentencing is underway, heard that child protection officials were tipped off about her abusing the baby more than a fortnight before she died.
With Anastasia found to have suffered numerous previous bone fractures – some of which were healing – State prosecutor James Mactaggart said it was “highly likely” she had been assaulted days or weeks before she was fatally shaken.
She had the fantasy in her mind if she had a baby and a partner… there would be this perfect world and everybody would be happy.
Defence lawyer, Seamus Rafferty
He said it appeared that the baby “had been subjected to other ill treatment” prior to her death in hospital.
According to ABC News, Doohan’s relatives had seen a friction burn to the baby’s neck, along with bruises and a scratch on her face.
But, when the mum took Anastasia to hospital, she claimed the wounds were caused by her daughter rolling in her cot and bumping her head on its rails.
The broadcaster adds that although a doctor determined her injuries were the result of an accident, child protection officials were told otherwise by an anonymous person.
Upon being tipped-off, a safety plan was organised after the authority contacted Doohan and her partner.
But, six days before she was murdered, family members noticed the baby had a blood clot above one eye, and bruising around her neck.
The court also heard that Doohan was seen shaking Anastasia “violently” after she cried in her pram.
MOTHERHOOD “TOO REAL”
Her lawyer, Seamus Rafferty, said she was “simply not equipped in any way to be a mother”.
Rafferty said Doohan had suffered a difficult childhood, devoid of love.
The lawyer said the woman’s dad was a violent man – and “drug-using sadist” – who hit out at his daughter and his wife.
He described his client as socially inept, adding that she wanted to have a baby because she had a fantasy of creating a “perfect little world” for herself.
Rafferty explained: “She had the fantasy in her mind if she had a baby and a partner… there would be this perfect world and everybody would be happy”.
But the reality of the responsibility of being a mother was very different and Doohan never bonded with her baby, as “the child was not complying with the fantasy in her mind”.
The lawyer explained: “When she had Anastasia, it simply became all too real.
“Her concept of motherhood was completely skewed.”
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Doohan’s case was exceptional and she should be handed a fixed prison sentence rather than the usual life term for murder, Rafferty added.
If granted, she will be only the second person in WA to receive such a sentence for murder.
Doohan cried while listening to details of her daughter’s catastrophic injuries.
Justice Anthony Derrick said he needed more time to consider the submissions.
He will sentence Doohan on Tuesday.