A 22-month-old boy who had been smashed by his mother’s boyfriend and left to die was failed by the child safety department in “almost every way possible,” a coroner decided.
Mason Jet Lee died of an infection in Caboolture, Queensland in June 2016, after being hit so hard in the abdomen by William O’Sullivan that his small intestine was torn.
Deputy medical examiner Jane Bentley said that “dealing with Mason’s case in almost every way was a failure” when she handed her findings Tuesday in Brisbane Coroners Court.
“I conclude that the department has failed to fulfill its duty to protect Mason against the risk of serious injury suffered in the months prior to his death,” she wrote in her findings.
Mason Jet Lee died of an infection in Caboolture, Queensland in June 2016, after being punched in the abdomen by his mother’s boyfriend, William O’Sullivan
Indeed, it is difficult to find a step in this case that has been implemented according to policies and procedures and is properly documented.
“ The fact that the Ethical Standards Unit (ESU) found that 21 department employees involved in Mason’s case (10 at CCSSC and another 11 employees involved in intakes) were not performing their duties properly indicates the magnitude of the failure. ‘
The courier post reported that a senior Child Safety employee was fired on Monday ahead of the coroner’s findings.
O’Sullivan was initially jailed for nine years after the death of the 22-month-old boy in 2016, but a successful appeal from the Crown raised it to 12 years.
However, an appeal against the leniency of the sentence given to the toddler’s mother, Anne Maree Lee, was dismissed by the Queensland Court of Appeal in December 2019.
The couple pleaded guilty to Mason’s manslaughter after not giving him medical treatment for suffering a painful death.
Ms. Bentley told the court that her findings contained graphic and disturbing details about Mason’s life and the last days.
“I include it in the findings not to be shocked or upset, but to acknowledge the fact that this little boy happened when he was a child in our community,” she said.
William O’Sullivan (right) and Mason’s mother Anne Maree Lee (left) pleaded guilty to manslaughter after not giving the toddler medical treatment
“If Mason had to endure these things, we as a community should know and acknowledge them.”
An autopsy on Mason found that his death had been caused by the infection, but that he had suffered numerous other injuries that indicated that he had been severely abused for some time.
He had been beaten or kicked so hard that it broke his coccyx a few days before his death.
Mason suffered displacement of his colon and rectum, a broken coccyx and shin, 46 bruises on his body, mouth and ear ulcers, head bleeding from head trauma and intestinal injury leading to infection.
The toddler also had illegal drugs in his system.
The findings outlined how the little boy’s deteriorating health in his last days was largely ignored by his mother and stepfather.
The family was known to the child safety department before Mason’s birth in 2014.
In 2015, the department discovered that the children were safe with their mother and that they should not be looked after despite evidence that she had used drugs and alcohol.
An autopsy on Mason found that his death had been caused by the infection, but that he had suffered numerous other injuries that indicated that he had been severely abused for some time
Mason was hospitalized in early 2016 when a doctor noticed the worst injuries he had ever seen.
The department again made the decision to return the toddler to his family.
The last time anyone from the Department of Mason actually saw was in March 2016.
Mrs. Bentley’s assessment of how the department handled the matter was damning.
“Despite all the information the department had available, which clearly showed that Mason was a child at serious risk, no one in the department saw him three months before he was killed or checked his well-being,” she wrote.
She acknowledged that the department was understaffed and staff were overworked.
However, she said the case was mismanaged at a number of levels and the department needed to review its policies on how it implements out-of-home care for at-risk children.
The family was known to the child safety department before Mason’s birth in 2014. Mason is depicted with his mother Anne-Maree Lee