Toddler Mason Lee was so badly abused that his organs had ruptured and he died a 'slow and painful death'

Mason Lee spent his final days vomiting and crying in agony as he inched toward his death "slowly and painfully." He died making grunting noises with blue lips as he lay wrapped in a towel


                            Toddler Mason Lee was so badly abused that his organs had ruptured and he died a 'slow and painful death'
(Getty Images)

A 21-month-old boy who spent his final days crying in agony as he inched towards his death "slowly and painfully" had injuries which were the "worst" a doctor had ever seen in his career, an inquest has heard.

MEA WorldWide (MEAWW) previously reported that Mason Lee died on June 11, 2016, after his stepfather William Andrew O'Sullivan punched him in his stomach so hard, his intestines ruptured. 

By the time paramedics responded to the scene, which was within six minutes of getting a call, Mason had already succumbed to sepsis and had been dead for some time.

O'Sullivan had subsequently tried to pin the blame of the young boy's death on them, but investigations revealed he had been tortured and abused for several months leading up to his death.

Speaking at the latest inquest hearing into his death, a senior pediatrician with over 40 years of clinical experience told the coroner that Mason was "very sick" and had severe lesions and fissures around his bottom and anus, as well as a fracture when he saw him earlier that year.

The 21-month-old was reportedly treated for multiple injuries in the months before his death and was admitted to Lady Cilento Children's Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, for at least three weeks in February 2016.

Despite knowing his situation, child safety services did not take action. He was released into the care of his mother, Anne Maree-Lee, and presented in the hospital two more times in the months before he died.

The pediatrician said the boy had severe skin damage to five separate areas of his bottom due to severe nappy rash, cellulitis, and a swollen leg. "I had never seen anything quite as severe," he testified.

When Dr. Jacoba Brasch, the counsel assisting the coroner, asked the senior pediatrician if Mason was in pain, he replied in the affirmative and said he had suffered extensive child abuse. He said he called in child safety officers to investigate the case.

The inquest also heard an autopsy on Mason found 45 bruises to his body and four anal tears. "The number of bruises was extraordinarily high," a doctor said under cross-examination.

Another pediatrician backed her peer and said images she was shown of the child's injuries were "the worst I had ever seen in a toddler's nappy area" and "quite confronting images." She said she was worried his anal injuries were caused by sexual abuse.

Mason spent his final days vomiting and crying in agony as he inched toward his death "slowly and painfully." He died making grunting noises with blue lips as he lay wrapped in a towel.

Family support workers, ultimately, visited Mason just once in the last three months of his life, it was heard. Twelve of the protection staff later faced disciplinary actions for their "errors of judgment" and three of them stood down.

The inquiry, however, promised to not focus on "retribution or revenge" and promised to try to understand the context in which decisions were made by child safety officers so staff may be better supported in the future.

O'Sullivan and Lee have been convicted of child cruelty in connection to Mason's death and sentenced to nine years in prison each. 

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