Father jailed over baby's 31 days of hell before death
FOR 31 days, a Rockhampton newborn suffered severe pain after being intentionally and accidentally injured by the people who were supposed to be caring for him.
It was only after Lattrell Dodd displayed breathing difficulties that his father called Queensland Ambulance Service for help and the defenceless baby ended up in Lady Cilento Hospital where medical professionals determined no treatment was working. He died on May 31, 2013, aged 12 weeks.
The baby sustained seven skull fractures, bilateral subretinal haemorrhages and 32 to fractures to his little body including 17 to his ribs.
Lattrell had been in the care of a relative, Tanya Dodd, for two months prior to his biological parents forcefully taking the baby to a place full of drugs, alcohol and violence.
Justice Graeme Crow, who sentenced both of Lattrell's parents Christopher Allan Holland and Lattrell's mother Megan Freeman said Tanya Dodd sought assistance from police to get Lattrell back to safe environment and was making progress.
"But sadly, it was too late," he said.
Holland, who has a 15 page criminal history with his first violent act committed when he was 15-years-old, was today sentence in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton to 10 years jail with a serious violent offence declaration attacked to his manslaughter conviction.
"It shows that from an early age, you were not afraid to visit violence on other people," Justice Crow said.
"I'm trying to think of a category of offences he hasn't committed previously," Justice Crow said in relation to Holland's criminal history.
The court heard there were no previous cases of manslaughter of a child by neglect where the offender with such an extensive criminal history as Holland.
Holland had spent 1247 days in pre-sentence custody after being charged over Lattrell's death in December 2015.
Freeman was sentenced on March 26 to 18 months with parole release on September 25 after she pleaded guilty to one count of cruelty to a child under 16. She was heavily pregnant when she was sentenced.
Justice Crow, who sentence both parents, said Lattrell suffered traumatic injuries through violence including bilateral subretinal haemorrhages, seven skull fractures and 32 fractures to his body including 17 rib fractures.
"The extent of the injuries to the infant are quite extraordinary," Justice Crow said.
"They are not pleasant to look at. The lump on his left shoulder is obvious - it looks like a balloon.
"He was very badly injured.
"The fatal ones were the injuries to his head."
Justice Crow read out the measurements of each fracture Lattrell had, including a 10cm fracture on the top of his head as part of the three fractures to the right side of the head and four to the left side.
Lattrell also had bleeding in both of his eyes.
Justice Crow said the head of Lady Cilento Hospital at the time determined some of Lattrell's injuries showed evidence of healing while others were clearly inflicted close to Lattrell's collapse and "would likely to have caused Lattrell significant pain when he moved or was touched".
He referred to photographs of Lattrell's body showing two obvious injuries - one to his clavicle and one to his femur. The images also show the baby was malnourished and had many bruises and swelling visible.
Justice Crow said the last time Lattrell was seen unharmed by medical professionals was when he received his tuberculosis immunisation on April 22.
The court heard community nurses attempted to visit Lattrell twice at the Koongal house where he was living for the last 31 days of his life - on May 6 and May 13 - but were unsuccessful.
Crown prosecutor Joshua Phillips said this was a bad example of manslaughter by neglect.
"Lattrell was the victim of some deliberate violence and some accidental or inadvertent acts by more than one perpetrator which caused injuries including the fatal ones," he said.
"He is the victim of some violence perpetrated by the defendant during that period."
Justice Crow said he had "never seen a case like this where they had seven skull fractures".
"Most of these types of cases - shaking or striking cases where the infant as, in this case, dies of subretinal haemorrhages, bleeding on the brain causing pressure on the brain."
Defence barrister Frank Richards said both Holland, 34, and Freeman, 26, were "ill-equipped" to care for Lattrell.
He said both spent their time largely sourcing and consuming drugs and alcohol, living in the house of an intravenous drug user.
Justice Crow said Holland had no parenting himself having been estranged from his parents and siblings all of his life, growing up in dysfunctional environments "awashed with alcohol".
At 17, he tried to reconnect with his mother but she rejected him.
He said Holland started sniffing at 14, along with smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol and was largely unemployed his whole life except for a short stint working at a meatworks.
Justice Crow said Holland started consuming methamphetamines after Lattrell's death.
Lattrell Dodd's injuries
- bilateral subretinal haemorrhages
- bleeding in both eyes
- Injury to the right optic nerve
- seven skull fractures including a 100mm fracture on the top and others measuring 20-30mm on the right side; 60mm and 15mm fractures; a nine millimetre and a 25mm fracture to the back of his head; a 35mm fracture to the left side of his skull
- rib fractures including two, three, four, five, six and seven ribs on the right side, and only 11 and 12 on the left side not fractured.
- Fractures to his femurs with one healing near his right knee, ulnas including one healing fracture near his right elbow, fracture in his right wrist and one tibia; along with a fracture to his mid left femur which was visibly deformed
- bruises and swelling
Holland's criminal history
- 2001 - Sentenced in May in Rockhampton District Court for an armed robbery with violence in company he committed when he was 15 years old
- Sentenced in October for unlawful use of a motor vehicle, wilful damage, attempt to enter premises and possession of pipes and utensils
- Sentenced December in Rockhampton Magistrates Court for similar offending
- 2002 - January breached community service orders, six court appearances in total during 2002 for assaults, property offences, motor vehicle offences, dishonesty and drugs
- 2003 - Eight court appearances for property offences, enter premises, breach of bail and wilful damage
- 2004 - July - Maryborough Magistrates Court - possessing a knife in a public place
- 2005 - two common assault conviction and four other court appearances
- 2006 - Maryborough Magistrates Court - possess dangerous drug and common assault
- 2007 - one appearance for multiple offences
- 2009 - Rockhampton Magistrates Court - more than a dozen property offences and an assault/obstruct police offence
- 2010 - three appearances for property and receiving tainted property offences
- October - found guilty of discharging a weapon in a public place
- 2011 - Rockhampton District Court sentenced to three years prison for burglary, stealing and enter premises
- 2012 - released on parole on January 12 and on February 10 he committed enter premise and commit indictable offence
- 2014 - two appearances in Gladstone Magistrates Court for breaches of bail, receiving tainted property, public nuisance, possession of pipe and utensils, possessing dangerous drugs and stealing
2015 - three appearances in Gladstone Magistrates Court for property offences, public nuisance