Australian National News

Mum found guilty of killing kids

By Karen Valentine
The Australian
23Jan03

A PERTH woman has been found guilty of wilfully murdering two of her infant children, almost a decade after the first child's death was explained away as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

A Western Australian Supreme Court jury last night convicted 31-year-old Louise Scotchmer of wilfully murdering her two-week-old son Shane in 1994 and her 13-month-old daughter Melissa two years later.

Scotchmer never denied suffocating her baby and toddler with blankets, but had pleaded not guilty on the grounds of insanity.

The court heard that in 1999 she tried to set alight her third child's cot, but her husband saved the boy.

She was charged with attempted murder and arson-related offences.

Scotchmer was found not guilty of attempted murder but spent time in jail for setting the fire.

It was while she was on parole for that offence that she was charged with wilfully murdering her first two children.

The five-day trial was told Scotchmer had drunkenly admitted to her husband Lee that she had killed the infants.

The court also heard she could not remember if baby Shane screamed or moved when she placed a blanket over his head.

Shane's death had been previously put down to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome while the cause of Melissa's death was declared unknown.

The jury took nearly seven hours to return the guilty verdict.

Scotchmer will be sentenced at a date to be determined. She is facing life imprisonment.

The Crown maintained Scotchmer was guilty of wilful murder because she committed the crimes while she was alone, knew what she was doing was wrong and was in control of her actions.

But her defence said she had a mental illness and was in a disassociated state when she killed her baby and toddler.

It was argued that she would not have known what she was doing.

Her only surviving child is in foster care.

This report appears on news.com.au.

© The Australian