Retrial Lorien Norman of South Australia For the aggravated assault on her daughter Evie!
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A MOTHER who admitted to bashing her baby daughter before threatening to throw her battered body off a balcony won’t spend a night in jail because, according to a South Australian judge, her crime was “far from the most serious”.
Lorien Norman, 26, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault after beating her eight-month-old daughter Evie with her hand and a large slotted cooking spoon at her Adelaide unit on October 1 last year.
The Adelaide District Court heard harrowing details of how Norman called police on the night of the assault and threatened to throw Evie off a balcony.
Officers raced to the address where they found Evie with serious injuries to her face, including significant bruising to her forehead, cheeks, ears, neck and arm, and a welt mark from a slotted cooking spoon across one of her cheeks.
The district court was told the baby’s mother had initially lied to police and tried covering up her crime by telling responding officers that her daughter had sustained her injuries in a fall at a playground.
Photos uploaded to Facebook sometime after the attack show the 32-week-old baby with a black eye, abrasions and a small cut on her face, and the welt mark from the slotted spoon on her cheek.
The officers conveyed both Norman and her daughter to the local hospital where a thorough physical examination confirmed Evie had been assaulted and hit in the face and body at least eight times.
In sentencing Norman in the Adelaide District Court last week, Judge Jack Costello noted the 26-year-old’s history of drug and alcohol abuse but said the now mother-of-two had started to turn her life around.
“In the DPP’s submission the injuries were caused by reason of a sustained and deliberate assault by you upon your daughter which involved multiple blows, at least one of which was with a slotted spoon to your daughter’s face and that this indicated more than a momentary loss of control on your part,” Costello said.
“Whilst any assault of a child, particularly one of such a tender age and vulnerability, by a parent stands as a gross breach of trust, your offending is nevertheless far from the most serious of offending of this type in terms of the degree of force involved and the duration of the offending.
“In this respect, I particularly note the opinion of the treating paediatrician to the effect that there was no evidence of bony or intracranial injury and that your daughter’s physical injuries were likely to completely resolve.”
Norman was sentenced to one year and nine months in prison last Wednesday, but the term was fully suspended in return for her guilty plea.
She instead walked free from court on a $500 two-year good behaviour bond for an offence with usually carries a maximum jail term of 13 years.
In an interview with 9News.com.au, Norman’s former partner Shane McMahon expressed his outrage at the district court’s decision and claimed Norman’s actions were fuelled by jealousy over his new relationship.
Mr Mahon claims Norman had just found out about a new relationship he was in and he believes the attack was done with a view of getting back at him.
The attack also occurred on the anniversary of the day of his father’s death from cancer, a time of year his former partner knew he found particularly upsetting, Mr McMahon said.
“She knew that I had gotten a new partner, she knew that it was my dad’s anniversary, and she did that to Evie,” he said.
On the day of the assault, police officers knocked on McMahon's door asking if he knew where Norman was.
“A few hours later I had a phone call from major crime scene detectives saying Evie was at hospital with life-threatening injuries,” Mr McMahon said.
“I rocked up there and she (Evie) was just beside herself. All she wanted to do was have a bottle. They couldn’t console her and as soon as she got into my arms she just went quiet.”
“All she wanted was a bottle but she couldn’t even drink it because she was so bruised and could barely open her mouth. It was horrible.”
Mr McMahon said he planned to fight the decision and was meeting with his lawyer next week to see what could be done to appeal it.
“How do they expect me to hand over my child to her? How do you expect me to put her back in the arms of that person?” he said.
IN THE DISTRICT COURT
WEDNESDAY, 30 AUGUST 2017 AT 9.20 A.M.
BEFORE HIS HONOUR JUDGE COSTELLO
R V LORIEN NORMAN
HIS HONOUR IN SENTENCING SAID:
Lorien Norman, you pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated causing harm with intent to cause harm, the maximum penalty for which is 13 years imprisonment. The offence is aggravated because it was committed against your own child.
In terms of your offending I was told that at about 4 a.m. on 1 October 2016 you rang 000 threatening to throw your eight month old daughter off the balcony of your unit. Police attended your unit later that morning and observed bruising to your daughter's face. As a result they took both of you to hospital.
When spoken to by police you initially lied to them saying that your daughter had sustained a fall at play gym a day or so earlier.
She was subsequently treated by a paediatrician who concluded that she had been the victim of a physical assault during which she had sustained at least eight separate blows to her face and body causing bruising to her forehead, both cheeks and ears, her neck and arm. The doctor also formed the view that some of the bruising correlated in size and shape to a black slotted spoon seized from your kitchen and her other bruising was likely to have been caused by a hit or smack by a hand.
Photographs submitted by the DPP depict the nature and extent of the bruising. Other photographs depicting bruising to her neck and a laceration to her finger would suggest that your daughter was also at least being roughly handled by you in and around the time of the injuries were inflicted which are the subject of the charge.
In the DPP's submission the injuries the subject of the charge were caused by reason of a sustained and deliberate assault by you upon your daughter which involved multiple blows, at least one of which was with a slotted spoon to your daughter's face and that this indicated more than a momentary loss of control on your part.
Whilst I agree that this number of blows would indicate something more than a momentary loss of control, it is not possible, as the DPP properly conceded, to say over precisely what period of time the blows were delivered apart that is from an acknowledgement that they probably all occurred at about the same time.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the assaults this much at least can be accepted, namely that at around the time of your offending you were addicted to alcohol and clearly in a distressed condition. So much is apparent from the declaration of Mr O'Brien and your calls to both him and 000 stating that you were going to throw your daughter off the balcony.
Consistently with the medical evidence I propose to sentence you upon the basis that at or around the time of your call you lost control and assaulted your daughter over a relatively brief period of time in the course of what potentially was a single episode of violence.
Whilst any assault of a child, particularly one of such a tender age and vulnerability, by a parent stands as a gross breach of trust, your offending is nevertheless far from the most serious of offending of this type in terms of the degree of force involved and the duration of the offending. In this respect I particularly note the opinion of the treating paediatrician to the effect that there was no evidence of bony or intracranial injury and that your daughter's physical injuries were likely to completely resolve.
In terms of your personal circumstances, you are 26 years of age. You are the mother of two daughters, one of whom is the victim, by a man with whom you had a previous relationship which has now ended. He now has custody of both of your children.
You were educated to year 11 before leaving school at the age of 17. Your employment since leaving school has been affected to a degree by the birth and raising of your two daughters.
You have otherwise been variously employed as a waitress, salesperson and bank teller with the teller work lasting for some four years. In terms of further employment you maintain a long term desire to follow in your father's footsteps and work in real estate.
In terms of your childhood, your parents separated when you were three years old. Thereafter you alternated living with both your parents until the age of 16 when you moved into independent rental accommodation.
You currently maintain a close relationship with your father, although when you were growing up he was a strict disciplinarian who would at times physically be abusive to you. Your mother, sadly, suffers from alcohol addiction and you maintain only sporadic contact with her.
You had a troubled adolescence with a history of self-mutilating behaviour. You have been diagnosed as having a borderline personality disorder and have twice been admitted to the Adelaide clinic.
You have had a number of significant de facto relationships with men who have been violent towards you and on several occasions you were raped by men with whom you became involved.
You have also had a significant history of drug (particularly cannabis) and alcohol abuse, the latter of which has led you to being hospitalised for alcohol poisoning. Despite your troubled and somewhat dissolute past life there is guarded cause for optimism in that you have taken steps to turn your life around. You have begun having psychological treatment with Mr Richard Balfour, whose report I have read and taken into account. You have successfully completed a marijuana withdrawal program at DASSA. You have organised to see a psychiatrist, Dr Georgini to review and optimise your pharmacotherapy in accordance with a recommendation by Mr Balfour. You have applied for and been accepted as a student in a Bachelor of Applied Social Science course at TAFE College. You are also on the waiting list for further specific drug and alcohol counselling.
In terms of your children, I am told that you have been ordered by a Family Court judge to enrol at the Children's Contact Service, a supervised visitation facility under the auspices of Anglicare. This course involves some six two hours supervised visits with the children after which there will be a report back to the judge who made the order. Your case is next back before the Family Court in late October 2017. These are all positive measures designed to reinforce your apparent desire to get your life back under control and to re-establish contact with your daughters.
Turning now to the question of sentence. You pleaded guilty at a time which entitles you to a discount of up to 30% on any sentence I impose. There are no factors which militate against me allowing you the full 30%. You have only one prior criminal conviction which is not relevant to your current offending. You are clearly remorseful for your actions. The offending to which you have pleaded guilty is very serious. I repeat, that any offence committed on a child, particularly one's own, and one so young, is rightly deprecated by the community and needs to be discouraged. General deterrence is an important factor in such a case.
The circumstances of your offending are such that a sentence of imprisonment is warranted. Having said that, as I also said, the nature and duration of the offending here renders it less serious than many others. If it had not been for your plea of guilty I would have imposed a sentence of two years and six months which will be reduced to one year and nine months to reflect the Sentencing Act discount.
I fix a non-parole period of 10 months.
Turning now to the question of suspension. You are still a relatively young woman with a limited criminal history. You are making a genuine and concerted effort to turn your life around and I am impressed by the measures you have undertaken towards rehabilitating yourself both as a person and a parent.
In this respect I bear in mind the remarks of King CJ in Yardley v Betts where King CJ said: 'The protection of the community is also contributed to by the successful rehabilitation of offenders. This aspect of sentencing should never be lost sight of and it assumes particular importance in the case of first offenders and others who have not developed settled criminal habits. If the sentence has an effect of turning an offender towards a criminal way of life the protection of the community is to that extent impaired. If the sentence induces or assists an offender to avoid offending in future the protection of the community is to that extent enhanced'.
In my view, for the reasons articulated, good reasons exists to suspend your sentence. Your sentence will, therefore, be suspended upon you entering into a bond in the sum of $500 to be of good behaviour for a period of two years upon the following conditions:
1. That you be of good behaviour and comply with all of the conditions of this bond;
2. That you be under the supervision of a Community Corrections officer for the term of bond and obey his or her lawful directions, including a direction that you submit to drug and alcohol testing;
3. That you attend and complete any assessment, counselling treatment and therapeutic programs as may be deemed appropriate by the Community Corrections officer assigned to supervise you;
4. That you do not possess a firearm or any part of a firearm during the period of the bond;
5. That you submit yourself to gunshot residue testing required during the period of the bond;
6. That you present yourself at the office of the Department of Community Corrections referred to in the bond within two business days of today.
Miss Norman, could you stand up please. Are you prepared to enter into a bond in those terms?
PRISONER: Yes, I am, yes.
HIS HONOUR: Miss Norman, the effect of what has occurred today is that you have been given a sentence of imprisonment and it is a sentence of imprisonment which will hang over your head now for the next few years and the one potential outcome is that if you decide to return to what I described as your past life, the dissolute life of drinking and drugs, the prospects are that you will lapse back into a criminal way of behaviour. If you do that the potential is that you will be back here.
You have obviously shown that you can take steps to put that behind you. Ultimately you got yourself into this and you are the only person who can get yourself out of it. So, it is up to you whether you do take the chance that has been given to you.
ADJOURNED 9.36 A.M
Evie, Indie and Shane deserve justice! No father should be put through having to hand his child over to a woman who nearly killed his daughter and threatened to kill his daughter.
The only place this woman needs to go is behind bars, there is so many children who are left in care of violent families and once the children lose their lives it is to late for you to say sorry! Please serve the correct justice for Lorien, A child so badly beaten does not need to be punished by being near that monster again! I have no relations to anyone in this family nor do i live in the same state or spoken to any of them i have read and seen the photos and this is not justice this is sweeping a crime under the rug.
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