A toddler beaten and starved by his mother and her girlfriend was eating food off the floor when Queensland police rescued him.
The three-year-old was found with bruises - some patterned - on his scalp, head, neck, chest, abdomen, genitals, back, buttocks, arms and legs.
He also had abrasions and lacerations.
The shape of some bruises suggest a belt buckle and coathanger were used.
Others were inflicted with an unknown instrument, but it was apparent “excessive force” was used, said Queensland District Court Judge Brad Farr.
The injuries were not life-threatening, but had occurred on different occasions.
The boy also had a “wasted appearance” and was suffering from chronic malnutrition.
The women who inflicted the pain and cruelty on the little boy were his 25-year-old mother and her 29-year-old partner.
Their behaviour was vile, abhorrent, “incomprehensible and shameful in the extreme”, Judge Farr said in sentencing the pair on Friday to more than three years in jail.
A neighbour alerted police after becoming concerned about the women arguing in the presence of a child who appeared scared.
It was only then that the boy’s suffering came to the attention of authorities.
“He was sitting on the floor at the time (police arrived) eating a bowl of cold noodles, as well as eating off the floor,” crown prosecutor Rebecca Marks told the court.
At first, the two women lied to police, claiming there were innocent explanations for his injuries.
“But that was clearly self-serving nonsense,” Judge Farr said.
Marks said the women were responsible for “serious and heinous offending” inflicted on a toddler aged two to three.
He relied on them for food, medical care and safety.
“Those who are meant to protect him ultimately failed him when he was most vulnerable and needed their love, care and attention,” she told the court.
The boy had also not been seen by a doctor for more than a year, even though both women and his siblings had received bulk-billed medical attention during that time.
Judge Farr said a victim impact statement from child safety officers revealed the boy still hoarded food, consistent with him having been “starving for a period of time”.
‘Those who are meant to protect him ultimately failed him when he was most vulnerable.’
He also continues to show physical and emotional manifestations of the trauma.
The women, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of assault and one of child cruelty.
They were each given a head sentence of three years and six months in jail.
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