A four-year-old child from Australia died in a hospital after she was forced by her mother to ride a motorbike, ABC News Australia reports.
Chloe, the four-year-old girl, was repeatedly forced to ride a 50-kilogram motorbike while her mother, Ashley Jean Polkinghorne and her partner Benjamin Robert McPartland, filmed the child crashing into walls and various objects.
According to the South Australian court handling the case, the child suffered from grave injuries and was so swollen and bruised that her own relatives weren't able to recognize her immediately.
Belinda Valentine, Chloe's grandmother and Ashley Polkinghorne's mother, told the court that the 4-year-old girl's death "shattered" the lives of other family members who deeply cared for Chloe. In a statement revealed in court, Valentine gave details on how her granddaughter was brought to the hospital and how the four-year-old child "died in her arms".
"She was like a broken doll lying in the bed in hospital with tubes and wires coming out of her. At first I couldn't recognize her, she was so swollen and bruised and broken. It was horrific and unbelievable."She added:
"They say people look peaceful in death. Chloe didn't. She looked battered and bruised and alone."Valentine also added that the couple's conflicting statements regarding the child's death made it more difficult for the family to cope with Chloe's passing. She said:
"When those circumstances are shrouded in secrecy and lies it makes the depth of feelings such as anger, sadness, regret and frustration intensify beyond reason."
Polkinghorne and McPartland left the hospital before Chloe was taken out of life support. They were not present when the four-year-old died.
Other accounts claim that while the child was being treated, the mother and her partner were smoking and laughing outside the hospital, expressing relief that the police were not able to see their stash of cannabis when they raided their home.
Defense lawyer Anthony Allen says that his clients have accepted joint responsibility for the death of Chloe. He says that her death was a result of "stupidity at its highest level".
However, prosecutor Sandi McDonald believes that the case is beyond mere stupidity, claiming that the couple received "perverse pleasure" from seeing their child get hurt from the motorbike.
What punishment should the couple receive for causing the death of the four-year-old child?
[Image from ABC News Australia]