More time behind bars for little Mason’s killer

THE man responsible for the tragic death of Caboolture toddler Mason Lee has had his jail sentence increased by three years on appeal.

Earlier this year, the Attorney-General appealed the nine year prison sentences handed to Mason's mother Anne Maree Lee and his stepfather William O'Sullivan, arguing their sentences were manifestly inadequate.

The Court of Appeal today dismissed the appeal against Lee but upheld the appeal against O'Sullivan, increasing his head sentence to 13 years imprisonment.

Mason Lee.
Mason Lee.

In June of 2016, O'Sullivan, Mason's stepfather, struck the neglected boy so hard that his organs ruptured and left him to die a slow and painful death over the following days, refusing to seek help.

The Court of Appeal found the previous sentencing decisions that were relied upon to determine the sentences in this case concerned sentences that were imposed under a different statutory regime.

"There have been the successive legislative changes to the laws that must be applied in the exercise of the sentencing discretion in these cases," the appeal judges wrote.

The judges said the sentence needed to reflect community denunciation of crimes of this type

"In this case, the respondent's fatal assault on Mason was preceded and then followed by a cruel neglect of Mason's pain and his self-evidently urgent needs," they wrote.

"The successive amendments to the Penalties and Sentences Act, as well as to the other legislation discussed, demonstrates the community's deep repugnance and its intolerance of actions which cause the death of a child, particularly one like Mason, whose tender age left him absolutely vulnerable within the respondent's home and without any chance of being saved from death by the intervention of outside witnesses.

"For these reasons, the sentence must serve the purpose of denunciation in a demonstrable fashion."

The court dismissed the appeal against Lee's nine-year sentence, saying she was less culpable than O'Sullivan, who inflicted the fatal blow and who had Mason is in his primary care in the days before he died.

"A mother's neglect of her child, which results in her child's death, is an appalling offence," they wrote.

"However, manslaughter constituted by neglect, even when it is the terrible neglect in this case, is not to be compared with an unlawful killing of a child by a deliberate violent act."

 

William O'Sullivan
William O'Sullivan

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