Mum murdered baby after 'fantasy' of 'perfect little world' failed
A teenage mother who murdered her four-month-old baby after the "fantasy" of motherhood did not meet her expectations has been sentenced to life in prison in Western Australia.
Cassandra Rose Doohan was aged 18 when she "vigorously shook" Anastasia, inflicting catastrophic head and neck injuries on the infant, at their Capel home in the state's South West region in May 2017.
Doohan was sentenced in the WA Supreme Court today and must spend at least 13 years behind bars before she can be eligible for parole.
Anastasia's father found her "floppy" body in her cot after he came out of the shower and the girl died at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth two days later.
The court heard Anastasia had been seen with bruises weeks before her death and child protection authorities had become involved.
Doohan, now 20, originally pleaded not guilty to murder but later admitted her crime.
Justice Anthony Derrick accepted Doohan had not intended to kill Anastasia but she did intend to cause bodily injury likely to endanger her life.
He said Anastasia was vulnerable and, as her mother, Doohan had a duty of care, but instead she used considerable violence and failed to get help until after her partner realised there was a problem.
Referring to the victim impact statements, Justice Derrick said Anastasia's father had suffered from mood swings, panic attacks and depression.
Defence counsel Seamus Rafferty previously told the court Doohan had a sadistic drug-using father and had wanted to have a baby because she had a fantasy of creating a "perfect little world" for herself.
But the reality of the responsibility of being a mother was very different, he said.
Justice Derrick accepted Doohan had been exposed to significant trauma as a child, including physical abuse.
"You had a poor start in life," he said.
Justice Derrick said Doohan was emotionally immature and had personality disorders.
"You were focused on what you believed a baby would give to you," he said.
But she became frustrated, angry and resentful towards Anastasia and never formed a bond, he said.
Mr Rafferty had argued Doohan should be handed a fixed prison term for murder rather than a life sentence.
But Justice Derrick said a life sentence would not be unjust in Doohan's case.
He added that no sentence could heal the pain and suffering of the family.
"This is a terribly tragic case," he said.
© AAP 2019