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Mum locked girl up for two years
(Herald Sun)
Updated: 2005-10-23 10:57

A mother who kept her daughter locked in a bedroom for two years may have been jealous of the girl's relationship with her aunt, a Sydney court has been told.

A New South Wales District Court judge today said he was struggling to understand why the woman and her partner kept their teenage daughter locked in a darkened room in their Sydney home.

The couple, who cannot be named, today faced sentencing submissions after being found guilty of falsely imprisoning the now 21-year-old from June 2000 to April 2002.

During the couple's trial, the court was told the girl, who weighed only 44kg, walked into Macquarie Fields police station in April 2002 and told officers her mother had locked her in her bedroom for almost two years.

Sentencing Judge Colin Charteris today said he was struggling to understand why this had happened.

"The first question I think of is why this occurred," he said.

"Why was she put in that room, what behaviour was being sought to be moderated. What did it hope to achieve?"

Crown prosecutor Virginia Lydiard said "the accused deprived the child from the age of 16 to 18 years of her liberty".

Ms Lydiard said a possible motive for the imprisonment may have been the mother's jealousy of the relationship between her daughter and her aunt.

She said the girl's stepfather was just as culpable because he put a lock on her door and would not let her out when she required medical attention.

Defence barrister for the girl's mother, David Price, said there was little evidence of any ongoing planning or organisation in the imprisonment.

Mr Price told the court the girl had access to a phone, could roam the house at different times and numerous people visited the house during her alleged lockup.

"She was not locked in a dungeon where she never saw the light of day," Mr Price said.

He described the mother as a person of good character with no criminal history, who was unlikely to re-offend.

Defence barrister for the girl's stepfather, Craig Smith, said he was less culpable than her mother and there was little evidence he intended to harm her.

But Judge Charteris asked why the stepfather never intervened in the girl's imprisonment.

"The reality of events is that every hour of every day, your client had the opportunity to bring her imprisonment to an end," Judge Charteris told Mr Smith.

Judge Charteris said while he was confident the parents were unlikely to re-offend, he had to base his sentence on the fact the girl was confined and robbed of her liberties for 20 months.

"What message do I send to the community in respect to other parents who might want to conduct themselves in this way?" Judge Charteris asked.

"Locking up a 16-year-old is not the answer, and that 16-year-old has rights.

"But no one ever knows the dynamics of a family unless you're in that family yourself."

A NSW District Court jury in August found the couple guilty of falsely imprisoning the girl, but the pair was found not guilty of maliciously neglecting her.

Judge Charteris is due to sentence the couple on October 28.

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