Warning: Distressing content.
Little Easton deserved better. He was left in a hot car for 4 hours and 50 minutes in January while his mum was playing pokies inside at a Point Cook hotel in Melbourne. He was just 14-months-old at the time.
The windows were shut. There was no air conditioning and the temperature outside reached 37C.
Easton survived but he is now left blind and with severe brain damage.
His mother, Kaija Miller, may spend the next five years of her life behind bars but the sentencing won’t take place until later this month.
A sobbing Kaija faced the County Court yesterday, pleading guilty to one count of negligently causing serious injury.
What exactly happened?
Kaija spent nearly five hours playing the pokies and bingo at the Point Cook hotel while her son remained in the car outside. Five hours in a hot car with no air-con or windows open – it’s a miracle this poor little boy even survived.
President of Kidsafe Victoria, Dr Mark Stokes, warns children’s lives could be at risk after only several minutes in a hot car. The smaller the child, the greater the risk. A young child will quickly dehydrate and lapse into unconsciousness.
The temperature inside a parked car during the Australian summer can be 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the outside temperature.
On a 29-degree-celsius day a car can reach 44 degrees in just 10 minutes and a deadly 60 degrees in 20 minutes.”
Frothing and having a fit
When Kaija went back to the car she found her son frothing at the mouth and having a fit.
She called emergency services but lied about what happened, telling them he was suffering smoke inhalation from the Black Summer bushfires.
She then admitted that she didn’t want to tell paramedics the truth as she didn’t want to tell her husband. She also stated that she hoped Easton survived so she wouldn’t go to jail.
During the investigation earlier this year, Kaija also lied about what exactly happened that day. She claimed she had checked on her son throughout the day, giving him water breaks between playing bingo and the pokies. However, this was later discovered to be false.
According to Kaija’s lawyer, the mother was suffering post-natal depression at the time, being “utterly overwhelmed by the demands of motherhood”.
Her barrister, Michael Allen, also explained to Judge Felicity Hampel that Kaija had been bullied at school, had cognitive impairment, and had been deemed by doctors to be of extremely low intelligence.
The maximum sentence Kaija will get is five years in prison.
The victim should have been protected by you
This isn’t the first time something tragic like this has happened due to the negligence of a parent meant to be protecting their child.
Just last week a Western Australian mother was jailed for adding bleach to her child’s feeding tube. At first, she blamed her young daughter but then confessed it was her and she did it so she could get a “good night’s sleep”.
As Justice Joseph McGrath said during the trial, “You are the victim’s mother. The victim should have been cared for and protected by you.” The mother was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison.
Last month another mother in Cairns was sentenced to jail after her 13-month-son ingested his mum’s meth she had left in her bedroom. Little Makavelii Leoni died from methamphetamine toxicity with 43 injuries to his body, including bruising and bite marks to his arm.
The mother first attempted to cover it up, suggesting he drowned in the bath but the truth came out. The mother was sentenced to eight years in prison.
A Sydney father also found out his fate earlier this year after he violently shook his newborn son, Ryan to death in a “sudden loss of control”. He admitted to the court that he “couldn’t handle parenting” and was sentenced to a jail term of five years.
If you or someone you know is struggling please seek help.
Where to get help
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 or beyondblue.org.au
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au
- Headspace: 1800 650 890 or headspace.org.au
What to read next
- Breastfeeding Mother Charged With Murder After Baby Dies From Methamphetamines
- Mum’s Warning After Daughter Nearly Dies from Drinking too Much Milk
- Toddler Drowns in Bath as Mum Grabs a Towel from Other Room
- Baby in Intensive Care After Eating Parents’ Cannabis Stash