On February 23rd 2019, Kerrie- Ann Conley drove to a friend’s house at 4 am with her two daughters, Chloe-Ann, one, and Darcey-Helen, two, in the back of her car. She went inside the house and left her toddler girls in the back of the car.
She didn’t retrieve them until 1:20 pm later that day.
Both girls died in the back of that hot car. Now, their mum has admitted to leaving her toddlers in the car to die and has been sentenced to nine years behind bars. However, she will be eligible for parole well before this.
Guilty to manslaughter
The Queensland mum, 30, pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Tuesday, according to 7News. She told investigators that she left the children in the car “because they were sleeping and they were difficult to settle once woken”.
The sentencing judge, Justice Peter Applegarth, said the excuse was “not very compelling”.
Kerrie-Ann allegedly went inside the house when she arrived and fell asleep for two hours. It is unknown why she didn’t remove the children from the car earlier than 1.20pm.
Burns, blisters and broken skin
The tragic incident took place in Logan on a day when temperatures soared to 33C. The car had been parked out the front for several hours and the court was told that the estimated temperature inside the car was more than 65C.
Both children had significant burns, blisters and broken skin. Paramedics who attended reported their skin peeling off as they performed CPR.
Kerrie-Ann was initially charged with murder but pled guilty to the lesser offense of manslaughter. She also pleaded guilty to possessing the drug cannabis and possessing a drug utensil in the form of a pipe.
Conley has previously admitted to being a daily drug user, including methylamphetamine. After taking the girls inside from the car, Conley was captured on home surveillance cameras throwing away a plastic bag that police believed contained drug residue.
Jailed for nine years
Mr Applegarth said Conley had shown ‘gross criminal neglect’ when she left the toddlers in the car. He sentenced her to nine years in prison.
“You should have realised the inherent risks of leaving (the children) in the car while you went inside and slept. Your grossly negligent conduct was deciding to leave your vulnerable children uncared for, unheard and unobserved in the dark,’ he said.
The court was told Conley was genuinely remorseful for her conduct and she had experienced neglect growing up as a child. Her drug use was described as a coping mechanism but this was also torn apart by Mr Applegarth.
“It simply helps explain your criminal conduct, it is not a mitigating factor,’ he said. ‘No child should have a parent who uses methylamphetamine.”
He said the thought of the distressed children being awake and strapped in the hot car as they died was ‘too much to bear’.
Conley, who has already served three years behind bars, will be eligible for parole after November 22, 2024.
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