An Indian-born couple in Australia have been found held guilty of manslaughter of their child. Their failure to ensure proper treatment for their daughter who was suffering from severe eczema led to their conviction. They now face a possible maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.
THERE was never a doubt that nine-month-old Gloria Thomas was loved and wanted by her parents. But the dogged persistence of homeopath Thomas Sam and his wife Manju in treating the child with alternative remedies instead of conventional medicine cost the child her life, a jury decided. The child died in May 2002.
Apart from eczema, the child, Gloria Thomas, also suffered from
severe malnourishment, delayed development, conjunctivitis and an abnormal left cornea.
But her father persisted with homeopathic drops and the couple went about their social life, ignoring medical advice. Eventually the poor Gloria died of septicemia in May 2002 at a Sydney Children's hospital.
At the New South Wales Supreme Court senior prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC argued Mr and Ms Sam had repeatedly ignored the advice of medical professionals to seek specialist treatment for their daughter.
"We say ... a reasonable parent in their position, knowing what they knew, seeing what they saw, being told what they had been told, would have obtained proper medical care and attention for Gloria," Mr Tedeschi said in his opening address to the jury.
At six months, Gloria's rash was so bad that her skin would weep and tear, letting infections into her bloodstream.
The prosecutor recalled that Manju Sam had arrived in India on February 23 to stay with her family as she was not coping with Gloria.
At her parents' suggestion, she took the baby to the local hospital where she was seen by two doctors who noted her severe eczema and prescribed medication.
The second doctor was so concerned he told Manju Sam he wanted to see Gloria every second day, but Mr Tedeschi said the baby was never taken back to the hospital.
The family arrived back in Sydney on April 27, but they did not take Gloria to hospital until May 5, and she died on May 8.
Justice Peter Johnson released the couple on strict conditional bail and a combined $50,000 surety before they are sentenced next month.