A woman told a three-year-old she was babysitting in Melbourne “I will bash you” before inflicting injuries that left the child with permanent disabilities.
It is unclear exactly what Xing Shen did to the boy she was babysitting with her partner, Xi Zhang, at the couple’s Docklands apartment in May 2019.
A cleaner overheard Shen telling the boy “I will bash you”, before hearing a loud bang in the couple’s bedroom and finding the boy facing the corner, unresponsive, as a punishment.
The boy sustained permanent cognitive disabilities from that night and requires ongoing speech pathology and physiotherapy support. His concentration and fine motor skills have also gone backwards.
Shen told a neighbour the boy had a “small accident” and hit his head on a wall after “playing” on Zhang’s shoulders.
The couple took the boy to hospital. He was at this point “shaking, convulsing and non-responsive”, according to documents released by the Victorian county court.
Shen repeated a similar story about an “accident” to hospital staff and said bruises found on the boy’s body had occurred at child care. He required resuscitation and brain surgery, with a paediatrician describing Shen’s accident story as “improbable if not impossible” given the injuries sustained.
Later, Shen told a social worker she and Zhang had twice locked the boy outside on the balcony as punishment for “lying”.
The boy, she said, kicked her in retaliation, leading her to push him off the couch into a wall, where a hole was found by police.
Shen, 25, has pleaded guilty to negligently causing serious injury. Zhang, 23, has also admitted to the same charge, as he was with his partner when the incident occurred.
Acting for Shen, lawyer Hayden Rattray said while she and Zhang had lied to hospital staff, this did not prevent the boy receiving treatment. Rattray also said Shen had little to no experience in caring for children.
She had since given birth in custody but the baby girl was being cared for by relatives in China.
Shen had gone 476 days without being able to hold or feed her daughter or hear her first words, Rattray said.
“At a human level, it’s difficult to comprehend the hardship that must have befallen [Shen] in the days since she gave birth to her daughter,” the lawyer said. “Plainly, her time in custody has been extraordinarily onerous.”
Zhang’s lawyer, Jonathan Manning, said the couple’s agreement to treat the boy roughly was not pre-planned but made up on the day.
The pair, who have already spent 726 days in custody, are likely to be deported to China after being released from jail.
The judge, Trevor Wraight, is expected to hand down his sentence on 12 May.