'Just stop, mummy': Nine-year-old tells heartbreaking story of how he lost his little brother after their mom tried to drown them both
The mother, who suffers from a range of mental problems, told detectives she decided to drown her children after one of them 'turned evil'
A young boy who was nearly drowned by his own mother and watched his five-year-old brother die when she attacked him next shared a harrowing account of the ordeal in a video of his interrogation that was played in court.
The child was just nine years old when he survived the attack by his mother, a 28-year-old Deniliquin woman who can't be named for legal reasons, in the Murray River at Moama in NSW on March 2, 2017. Now, the mother is on trial for the murder of her youngest child and the attempted murder of her oldest, Chinchilla News reports.
After pleading not guilty to both charges earlier by way of mental illness, the woman is now on the third day of her week-long trial in Wagga Wagga court. The child, who was bandaged while speaking to detectives from his hospital bed, said his mother had taken them to the river under the false pretense of going fishing, according to the heartbreaking footage played in court on Wednesday.
The mother allegedly instructed the older boy to "put your head under" the water once they were in the river. "I just said 'no' … and then she dunked my head under the water. (I was) scared. My whole body (was under the water). My face was down," he said. He said he could feel the sand at the bottom of the river when his mother "had her arm on my throat."
"Then I started hitting her so she would let go of me but she didn't," he said. "I was starting to suffocate as she was hopping on me. (Eventually, she released me) and then she grabbed my brother and did the same thing (to him). He couldn't breathe also and then he died."
Speaking to the police, the boy revealed that he saw his mother "shaking my brother" when he managed to make it to the bank and look back at the river. He would never see his brother alive again.
The mother described the horrific moment she forced the boys into the river and held them under water in her police interview that was played in court on Tuesday. When the videos were playing in court, the woman started crying, "bizarrely plaiting her hair", and "rocking back and forth", prompting Justice Richard Button to excuse her from the court.
According to her statement to detectives, she claimed she had "blacked out and drowned her babies" after one of them "turned evil".
She recounted the entire incident, first targeting her oldest son and holding his head under the water. "It was horrible," she said in the video. "He kept staying alive for a little bit. I had to sit on top of him. I couldn't hold him down because he was so strong." At one stage, she heard one of her sons scream: "Just stop, Mummy."
The boy struggled for air before he eventually broke free, the NSW Supreme Court heard. "I didn't want to keep doing it," the accused said. "It was so f***in' wrong." After failing with the oldest, she turned to the younger sibling. As she told detectives how she had one hand on her five-year-old son's head and the other on his chest, she wailed and cried.
Despite feeling him struggle, she didn't let go of him until he stopped moving. "I pushed him and let him float away so people would find him," she said. An extensive search by authorities ensued for the child's body, which was found in the river two days later.
The woman admitted that she "caused the death of (her) child by drowning him" and that it "was (her) intention to kill" both her children when she took them to the river, according to a statement tendered to the court. It was understood that the woman had been released from prison, on aggravated break and enter offenses, just one month prior to the incident and was on supervised parole at the time.
She appeared angry on the morning of the killing and had called her mother from the Victorian town of Goornong and told her she "won't see us anymore", Crown Prosecutor Max Pincott said in his opening address. She subsequently took her sons to the riverbank a few hours later and forced them underwater.
The boy who survived was viciously attacked by a dog soon after, prompting a witness to rush to his rescue. The boy later told him: "I think I'm the only survivor." According to the witness, he was "screaming and naked (and) covered in blood".
"I started yelling out to my mum," the boy continued during the police interview. "I said 'someone please help'. I tried to put my hands on the dog's face so he wouldn't do it but he was too strong." Soon after, another man saw the mother floating on her back in the river. The court later learned she was trying to end her own life.
After the incident, the nine-year-old boy was rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Doctors placed him on a ventilator for the next three days as he was suffering from aspiration pneumonia from the attempted drowning.
At about 9 pm on the day of the incident, the woman was spotted by local resort owner Michael Falzon as she was walking into his work premises soaking wet, bleeding, and crying. Her pants were ripped below her knee and so Falzon asked her if she was alright, Pincott told the court. "She answered: 'I drowned my babies'," he said. "When asked what she meant, she replied: 'I had to drown my babies'." "I just want a bullet, I should be dead," she told Falzon, according to his statement.
The woman then requested him to take her to the police station. "He observed on the way to the police station the accused was crying and saying, 'My babies my babies,'" Pincott told the judge. The woman openly told police: "I killed my kids … I didn't want to do it. I am such a motherf***er."
According to Defense barrister Eric Wilson SC, his client believed she was saving her children by ending their lives. "She was keeping them safe, your honor," he said. The 26-year-old said she was "going to be raped, tortured… and had to prevent her children from witnessing that… or they would be killed themselves".
"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 that she actually kept them safe." However, Justice Button said it was "thoroughly bizarre to think these acts were the solution to the problem."
"One would know that being drowned is surely not (a pleasant death)," Button said. "It's not as if the boys were given sleeping pills and simply drifted off to sleep. Being drowned would be a terrible way to die."
According to Dr. Jonathan Adams, a forensic psychiatrist who assessed the accused killer, she was likely suffering from delusional beliefs and appeared to have a borderline personality disorder. "I think she has a borderline personality disorder, a longstanding substance abuse disorder, and a likely major depressive disorder," Dr. Adams told the court. "It appeared to me her mental state was deteriorating in the four weeks prior to the alleged offense."
While the woman had a history of drug abuse, toxicology reports showed she was not under the influence of any illicit substances at the time of her arrest. However, it was understood she had not been taking her antipsychotic medication since her release from prison. During that time, she was also caught shoplifting on two occasions and had an apprehended violence order (AVO) taken out against her by her own mother, who was taking care of the boys at the time. An AVO bans the subject from coming near the accuser within 24 hours of consuming illicit drugs or alcohol.
Moreover, the woman was reportedly subject to physical, sexual and emotional abuse both as a child and as an adult and had a family history of schizophrenia. She had been self-harming since the age of nine, first overdosed on drugs at age 13, and attempted suicide multiple times, Dr. Adams said. The trial continues.