Vegan child weighed 5kg and had no teeth
A vegan couple who had their three children taken away from them, after police found their 20-month-old girl was severely malnourished and suffering from rickets, face five years in jail.
The court has heard a powerful victim impact statement from the baby's foster carer, who took the toddler in after she had been taken out of her parents' care.
She said the 20-month-old weighed just 4.89kg, looked like a three-month-old and had no teeth when she started caring for her in August 2018.
"I remember thinking, 'how terrifying'," she said in the statement.
She said the baby was "so behind other children" and couldn't perform basic actions like rolling over.
She said the baby is now "traumatised" by the monthly and bi-monthly blood tests she must undergo.
"She begins to scream and cry if she goes into a medical room and the door is closed," she said in the statement.
She said the baby's weight had become disproportionate to her height, meaning she had become "technically obese".
She said strangers ask how old she is upon seeing her because they would be "struck" by how small she was.
Police allege the father, 34 and mother, 32, - who cannot be named for legal reasons - fed their 20-month-old girl a strict diet "severely lacking in nutrients for her to thrive".
The parents first faced court in May last year, two months after their toddler suffered a seizure at home. They both pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury.
After her seizure, the sick toddler spent a month in hospital where doctors and nurses frantically worked to give her the nourishment she needed.
Within just six months, the girl put on 6kg and was able to crawl and stand on her own.
The baby's mother's lawyer said medical reports show her client was suffering from depression.
He said she left hospital just three and a half hours after the child's birth, didn't register the birth or its Medicare or have the baby immunised.
He said his client would lay awake in bed at night wondering whether her partner was cheating on her with a work colleague and whether she was a "useless" mother.
He said she wasn't returning calls from the baby's GP and she was stressed about her living arrangement in rented accommodation.
He said she would spend all day in her pyjamas and couldn't face even going shopping for groceries.
However, psychologist Dr Yvonne Skinner told the court today there was no evidence, based on medical records and her interview with the baby's mother, that the accused was suffering from depression over the 19 months.
She said this because she said it was clear she had developed a bond with her child and said she was enjoying hugging the child, breastfeeding her and buying her clothes.
She added that tests five months before the child was born, showed there was very little risk of post natal depression.
Court documents show the toddler's mother told doctors her daughter would generally have one cup of oats with rice milk and half a banana in the morning, and a piece of toast with jam or peanut butter for lunch.
For dinner, she said her daughter would be offered tofu, rice or potatoes. But she said the girl was a "fussy eater" so she might just have oats again.
This diet resulted in severe deficiencies in nutrients across the board for the infant, including a lack of calcium, phosphate, vitamin B12, vitamin A, iron and zinc.
Her levels of vitamin D - which can cause bone disease if found to be too low - were "undetectable".
Rickets is a preventable bone disease that affects babies and young children and causes soft and weakened bones. Children are typically diagnosed with rickets due to a lack of vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus.
The girl's condition was only brought to the attention of doctors in March last year, when doctors attended to the infant after she suffered a seizure.
She was just over a year old, but weighed only 4.9kg - which is barely double of what she weighed when she was a newborn.
One doctor described her as "floppy" and said the tiny one-and-a-half-year-old didn't crawl or talk during the month in care, according to court documents.
In an investigation into the girl's medical history, doctors found an absence of immunisations, no follow-up check-ups after she was born and no birth certificate or Medicare number.
The toddler's two older brothers, aged six and four, are also in government care and were also on vegan diets.