Dawes Will Not Serve Time For Son's Death, Appeal Court
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
November 4, 2004
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA--Daniela Dawes will not spend any time behind bars for killing her 10-year-old son, the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appeal ruled Thursday.
Dawes, 39, admitted to suffocating Jason, who had autism, by holding his nose and mouth closed until he was dead on August 4, 2003. She said the incident happened when he disrupted her efforts to get him ready for school. She claimed, however, that her depression, not her son's disability, was the motive for her actions.
Her defense attorneys argued that Mrs. Dawes killed Jason after the stress of taking care of him became too much for her to handle.
In June of this year, Dawes was given a 5-year good behavior bond, similar to probation with no jail time, after being convicted on a reduced charge of manslaughter. Upon sentencing, the judge said Dawes "had suffered enough" and that no sentence he could give would compare to the punishment she would continue to inflict upon herself.
After her sentence, government attorneys appealed the conviction, arguing that, while Dawes' responsibility may have been diminished because of a mental illness, she remained ultimately responsible for her son's death and should serve some jail time.
This week, however, the appeal court agreed with the lower court, and ruled that prosecuting attorneys should have called for jail time before the initial sentence was given.
Craig Dawes, Daniela's estranged husband, was angered by the appeal court's decision.
"I believe the whole judicial system has let my son down yet again," he said. "I will never tolerate the devaluation of a human life because they are disabled."
"The precedent this decision has brought to this country is nothing less than an atrocity for disabled Australians."
"Daniela Dawes: Mom Confessed To Suffocating Son, 10" (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)