Shortly after Christmas, a nurse from Hamburg gave her daughter a lethal dose of medication. A court finds the mother guilty of attempted murder, but is unable to resolve an important issue.
[Hamburg -] The district court of Hamburg has sentenced a nurse to four years and ten months in prison for attempted murder of her four-year-old daughter with medication.
According to the conviction of the criminal chamber, the 36-year-old administered her child two sedatives and a sleeping pill in very high doses. You have accepted the death of the four-year-olds approvingly, said the presiding judge Matthias Steinmann. The defendant was guilty of dangerous bodily harm and attempted treacherous murder.
The intensive care nurse had brought her child to the Wilhelmstift children’s hospital on December 28th last year because he had allegedly suffered a bruised skull while falling from the sofa. The father had gone to work shortly before the incident. The doctors admitted mother and daughter as an inpatient.
At first the child had only complained of a headache, but in the evening his condition suddenly worsened. Because of the suspicion of a cerebral haemorrhage, it was transferred to the University Clinic Eppendorf as an emergency.
This suspicion was not confirmed there. However, the child slept for a very long time and recovered, as Steinmann continued. A nurse saw the girl painting and playing in the room the following day. Only a good half an hour later, the mother carried the apparently lifeless child out of the hospital room. A pediatrician spoke to the mother and immediately recognized the emergency.
The Institute of Forensic Medicine found substances in urine and blood samples that “have no place there”, as Steinmann said. He named the sleeping pill zopiclone and the sedatives midazolam and diazepam. In view of the high dosage, the four-year-old was in potential mortal danger.
There is no evidence whatsoever that someone other than the mother could have given the means, not even accidentally, Steinmann stated.
The court could not clarify the motive for the act. The penalty is not too high, but appropriate. The chamber is aware of the drastic consequences of the judgment for the family. “The defendant has to realize what she did and find out why she did it,” the judge stressed. If she takes help, the judgment could also be an opportunity.
The public prosecutor had demanded six years in prison, the defense had spoken out in favor of a suspended sentence. The defendant denied the allegations to the last. She cried while the verdict was being delivered. The verdict is not yet legally binding. [dpa]