The Daily Telegraph

Drugs, TV, as boy lay dying

By AMELIA KERR Court Reporter
06dec01
The Daily Telegraph

AFTER five-year-old Dylan Byrne suffered horrific injuries, his mother and her partner parked themselves in front of the television and smoked marijuana, a court heard.

Suellen Lynne Byrne, 33, and Elwyn Morris, 37, smoked a bong while the 21kg body of Dylan lay motionless in front of an open fire on July 4, last year.

The NSW Supreme Court was told that after Byrne beat Dylan for 20 minutes with a kitchen ladle under a freezing shower and left him there for five hours, police tapped her phone.

In a recorded conversation between Byrne and Mr Morris, described in court as a "despicable" man, the pair confirmed their story as to how the pre-schooler died. Public defence barrister Chris Bruce said Byrne stated: "Look, they're saying I burnt him, I didn't burn him."

Mr Bruce said Mr Morris's response was: "Well, it happened in front of the fire."

But the court heard expert medical evidence that suggests Dylan died after being scalded in a hot bath.

Head of the burns unit at Westmead Children's hospital in Westmead, Dr Hugh Martin, said Dylan's burns, from his shoulders to his buttocks, was a "classic type of injury in deliberately inflicted scald burns in children".

He said Dylan would have been alive while being lowered into scalding water, unless he was "medically unresponsive" from the the beating and hypothermia sustained in the freezing shower.

The court heard that the Department of Community Services were aware 18 months before Dylan's death that he was being abused but he was not taken out of Byrne's custody, Mr Bruce said.

In the NSW Supreme Court in Grafton, Byrne pleaded guilty on November 26 to the charge of manslaughter on the basis the assaults be considered unlawful and dangerous acts of criminal negligence.

The four-day sentence hearing was required to establish whether Dylan received the shocking burns by "radiation" from an open fire, scalding in hot bath water, or both.

The court heard Coffs Harbour forensic psychiatrist, Robert Deleforce, labelled Byrne, also the mother of a three-year_old girl, as a "needy" person who was easily led by Mr Morris.

The court heard it would be difficult to work out exactly what happened the day Dylan died because of the "blatant lies" told by both Byrne and Mr Morris.

Byrne is awaiting sentence.

© 2001 Mirror Australian Telegraph Publications