An Australian couple who put their baby daughter on a strict vegan diet that left her severely malnourished have avoided serving a jail sentence.
The couple in their 30s, who cannot be named, is sentenced to an 18-month jail term which will be served as a community order.
The girl, now three is so malnourished that she looked like a three-month-old at 19 months.
She was fed a diet of oats, potatoes, toast and rice among others.
At a sentencing at Sydney’s Downing Centre Court on Thursday, Judge Sarah Huggett criticised the parents for putting her on a “completely inadequate” diet.
“This child was severely malnourished, underweight and undersized and delayed as far as age-appropriate milestones were concerned,” said the judge.
The girl was taken into care in March 2018 when her mother called emergency services after she suffered a seizure.
It was then that she was found to be severely malnourished. She presented with blue lips, cold hands and feet, low blood sugar and little muscle tone, said the Australian Associated Press.
’Couldn’t speak, feed herself’’
The baby’s foster carer, who took her in after she was taken out of her parents’ care, said the baby was “behind other children”.
“She couldn’t sit up, she couldn’t speak any words, she couldn’t feed herself, she couldn’t play with toys… she couldn’t roll over all the way,” she said in a victim impact statement in May.
The judge criticised the father for doing “nothing at all to address” his daughter’s condition.
“It is the responsibility of every parent to ensure the diet they choose to provide to their children… is one that is balanced and contains sufficient essential nutrients for optimal growth,” ABC quoted her as saying.
The parents first appeared in court in May last year, where they pleaded guilty to failing to provide for a child and causing serious injury.
Each parent was sentenced to 18 months in jail to be served as an intensive corrections order and 300 hours of community service.