Mother Who Drowned And Burned Daughter Cleared Of Murder
WARNING: This story includes content that may be confronting and distressing for some.
A woman who drowned and burned her four-year-old daughter as part of a 'sacrifice' has been cleared of her murder by reason of insanity.
Carly Ann Harris was accused of murdering Amelia Brooke Harris at their home after suffering a mental breakdown, which led her to believe she was saving the world.
A 'special verdict' was returned after jury members heard from psychiatrists from both the prosecution and defence. They all agreed that the 38-year-old woman was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
During the two-day trial, it was revealed that there was no dispute the mother had killed her child or about the events leading up to the child's death.
The four-year-old was reportedly found by her teenage brother, wrapped in a sheet, on a table in their backyard.
Local residents heard screaming and went to see what was wrong, only to discover Harris's older children looking visibly distressed.
One neighbour saw the 38-year-old mother standing in the front garden looking "dazed", and was subsequently told by the defendant: "God will be with her. The angels have taken her."
This prompted the neighbour to call the police. She then made her way to the family's backyard to find Amelia's charred remains lying on a table, covered with a sheet.
When police arrived, Harris allegedly told them: "The angels told me to do it. Just arrest me. It's okay."
Pathologist Dr. Richard Jones concluded the four-year-old had died from being drowned in the home's bathtub, and was already deceased prior to being burned.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Arden Tomison said Carly Ann Harris was convinced she had to kill her child in order to protect her and save the world. Tomison believes the 38-year-old was suffering from an "abnormality of mental function which substantially impaired her ability to form a rational judgement".
Harris appeared to have experienced "paranoid and religious delusions" and was convinced she was required to kill her daughter as part of a test from God, who would then return Amelia to her.
When asked "how mentally ill" Harris was, Dr Tomison replied: "This was a very severe, acute illness."
During her most recent examination, she remained adamant that she had to kill her child to protect her and the world, the court was told.
Another psychiatrist, Dr Phillip Joseph, determined that Harris had suffered from schizophrenia following a urinary tract infection in 2014. It is also possible that Harris's abuse of amphetamines may have 'triggered' this psychotic episode.
Outside court, the 38-year-old's mother said she was "devastated and beyond words".
"I lost Amelia and I lost Carly and the two boys lost their mother and sister and each other," she said. "I have lost my life. I've gone beyond tears. She is my daughter and I am devastated and I have lost my daughter."
Her son, on the other hand, is infuriated at the court's decision to clear his mother of Amelia's murder.
"All I wanted is justice for my little sister and you bellends find her not guilty," he wrote on Facebook.
"Let me tell you something money can't buy you everything their [sic] is a little girl berried [sic] over the valley who shouldn't be there she should be here with me and jaden her 2 older brothers and her family it should be carly Harris who should be berried [sic] over the other side makes me sick."