Austria: Dog crate trial: 20 years in prison for victim's mother

In the Austrian trial of a child who was tortured almost to death, the boy's mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Austria: Dog crate trial: 20 years in prison for victim's mother

In the Austrian trial of a child who was tortured almost to death, the boy's mother was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The 33-year-old single mother, who locked her then twelve-year-old son in a dog crate, was found guilty of attempted murder in the Krems district court late on Thursday evening. The jury also convicted her of torturing or neglecting minors, younger or defenseless people, as well as deprivation of liberty. The mother's 40-year-old accomplice was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The jury found it proven that the former girlfriend of the main defendant had given orders to abuse the boy. She was charged with incitement and aiding and abetting for continued violence. According to the court's order, both women should be placed in a forensic therapeutic center. The judgment is not final.

Boy's psyche "completely destroyed"

The 33-year-old had tormented her son for months. Among other things, she had tied him up, gagged him, starved him and exposed him to the icy cold. On top of that, she had locked him in a dog crate for hours on several occasions. The extremely emaciated child had a body temperature of just under 27 degrees and was in a comatose state when he was admitted to the hospital. The defendant also recorded his ordeal in several videos.

The motive she gave in court was that she wanted to raise her allegedly aggressive and rebellious son to be a good child. But she denied the intention to kill. The 40-year-old fueled the actions with numerous instructions.

The eight jurors deliberated for around seven hours before the verdict. The judge said the amount of the punishment was because the defendants had almost destroyed a life with their actions. On a psychological level, the boy was “definitely completely destroyed.” The two women also have to pay a total of 80,000 euros to the child.

Expert sees ongoing danger

An expert certified that the mother had a “serious and lasting psychological disorder.” The expert spoke of a “monstrous criminal act over a long period of time.” It is very likely that the woman will commit serious bodily harm crimes again in the foreseeable future. The expert assumed that the accomplice was similarly dangerous.

The mother, who had already burst into tears at the start of the trial on Monday, showed remorse again on Thursday. She is terribly sorry. She doesn't know how it could have gotten this far. The 40-year-old's lawyer said his client did not understand the extent of her child's suffering.

The fact that the child's torment came to an end is also thanks to the intervention of a social worker at the end of November 2022. After the mother poured cold water on her son with the windows open and his condition deteriorated to a life-threatening extent, the two defendants contacted the social worker, who was not involved in the case. She was able to persuade the mother to call emergency services through repeated requests.

The role of child and youth welfare was also discussed in the process. After two reports of danger, there were unannounced home visits to the mother and son on October 28th and November 18th, 2022. Although abnormalities were discovered, there was no reason to take immediate action.

Last year, the child and youth welfare service emphasized that an immediate examination of the internal processes after the case became known showed that all requirements had been adhered to. The final report from an independent group of experts will soon be presented to the Lower Austrian state government.