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Boy locked in dog crate: 20 and 14 years in prison

Boy locked in dog crate: 20 and 14 years in prison
The boy is said to have been locked in this dog box by his mother in the Waldviertel.
Image: CHRISTOPHER ECKL (APA)
LOWER...STERREIA: TRIAL FOR, INCLUDING ATTEMPTED MURDER, AGAINST WOMAN WHO IS SUBJECT TO LOCKING HER TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON IN A DOG BOX IN THE WALDVIERTEL AND TORQUEING IT
Lawyer Astrid Wagner on the way to the courtroom.
Image: HELMUT FOHRINGER (APA)
LOWER...STERREIA: TRIAL FOR, INCLUDING ATTEMPTED MURDER, AGAINST WOMAN WHO IS SUBJECT TO LOCKING HER TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON IN A DOG BOX IN THE WALDVIERTEL AND TORQUEING IT
The Krems regional court was the venue for the hearing surrounding the allegations.
Image: HELMUT FOHRINGER (APA)

The trial of a 13-year-old boy who is said to have been locked in a dog crate and tortured by his mother in the Waldviertel ended late on Thursday evening in Krems with guilty verdicts for the two accused women. The 33-year-old main defendant has to be in prison for 20 years, her accomplice (40) for 14 years. In both cases, they were also ordered to be placed in a forensic therapeutic center. The decisions are not legally binding.

  • More backgrounds: Waldviertel woman locked her son in a dog crate: “He begged for food, his mother didn’t give him anything”

The mother was convicted of attempted murder, torturing or neglecting minors, younger or defenseless people, and for deprivation of liberty. The main question of attempted murder was answered in the affirmative by seven of the eight jurors after around seven hours of deliberation, and the other two points were unanimous. The Waldviertel woman’s former girlfriend, who is said to have given orders for the boy’s abuse, was prosecuted as a contributor or intended perpetrator for continued violence. Here the vote of the lay judges was also unanimous.

The amount of the penalties was necessary to make it clear that the accused “almost destroyed a life with their actions,” said the presiding judge. On a psychological level, the boy that existed before was “definitely completely destroyed.” The two women also have to pay a total of 80,000 euros to the child.

The three-day trial of a 13-year-old, who is said to have been locked in a dog box and tortured by his mother in the Waldviertel, ended on Thursday at the Krems regional court. The jury retired for deliberations in the afternoon. Before that, the psychiatric report was discussed in detail.

In the psychiatric report prepared by Peter Hofmann, the 33-year-old mother was diagnosed with a “serious and lasting mental disorder”. However, the state of insanity had not been reached and the woman had not acted “under a delusion”. The ability to control the crime was significantly restricted during the time of the crime, but was not eliminated.

Video contribution to the process:

“Severe emotional disturbance”

According to Hofmann, the mother also suffered from a “severe emotional disorder” and the 33-year-old no longer had any sense of the absurdity of this situation. The expert spoke of a “monstrous criminal act over a long period of time.” There is a high probability that the 33-year-old will commit serious bodily harm crimes again in the foreseeable future.

  • More from the first days of the trial: Boy locked in dog crate: “It was just surreal”

The situation is similar in terms of danger with the 40-year-old possible accomplice. However, the accused was always sane, stated Hofmann. If the second defendant actually behaved as alleged in the indictment, this clearly indicates “great chasms within” and a “lack of empathy”. In addition to the sentence, the Krems public prosecutor’s office requested that both women be placed in a forensic therapeutic center in accordance with Section 21 Paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code.

  • There was massive criticism of the authorities: Child locked in dog box: Authorities are heavily criticized (June 2023)

The statements of the two defendants contradicted each other in many parts during the course of the trial. On Thursday, the mother appeared contrite and said she was “terribly sorry for what happened.” She doesn’t know “how it got to this point” and regretted contacting the second defendant.

“I wasn’t aware of the full extent”

The 40-year-old firmly admitted that she had once been there when the boy was locked in the dog box. However, she also emphasized that she was not aware of the full extent of the actions. “Unfortunately I can’t undo the mistake; I would have had to intervene myself.” She tearfully apologized to the 13-year-old and his father. The public prosecutor found contradictory statements from the 40-year-old. “Why should we believe a word you say?” asked the representative of the prosecution.

  • From the archive: Women sent each other instructions on how to torture a child (September 2023)

“The two women” had “destroyed the boy – at least mentally,” the prosecutor emphasized in her closing speech. “It took several weeks and months before we as the investigating authorities recognized the full extent of this crime.” The child’s mother also accepted the death of the then twelve-year-old. Victim lawyer Timo Ruisinger missed genuine remorse from both defendants. The now 13-year-old victim knows about today’s trial and wants justice.

“It’s one of the most difficult cases you can imagine. It’s actually a case of the century,” said Astrid Wagner, the mother’s defense attorney, in her plea. Because of her “distorted perception,” her client did not realize that the child’s life was in danger. There was therefore no attempt to murder. The second defendant’s lawyer, Sascha Flatz, said: “I am convinced that my client did not know that this was taking place in this form.” The 40-year-old even saved the child’s life with her intervention.

Accusation: beaten, tied up, gagged and locked in a dog crate

The 33-year-old mother and single parent is accused of, among other things, beating, binding, gagging her son and repeatedly locking him in a dog crate for hours at least from July to November 2022. She is also said to have let the child starve.

The woman was arrested on November 24, 2022. At the beginning of March 2023, the handcuffs clicked for the 40-year-old possible accomplice. She and the child’s mother were pretty much best friends for years. The woman from the Waldviertel is also said to have repeatedly given the first defendant detailed instructions on how to mistreat the child. The 40-year-old is also said to have suggested locking the boy in the dog box. However, the woman denied this.

Boy emaciated and hypothermic, life-threatening condition

The situation came to a head between November 20th and 22nd, 2022, and the accusation of attempted murder also refers to this period. The mother may have poured cold water on the then 12-year-old with the windows open. The emaciated boy’s body temperature dropped to 26.8 degrees and the condition was life-threatening.

LOWER...STERREIA: TRIAL FOR, INCLUDING ATTEMPTED MURDER, AGAINST WOMAN WHO IS SUBJECT TO LOCKING HER TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON IN A DOG BOX IN THE WALDVIERTEL AND TORQUEING IT
Lawyer Astrid Wagner on the way to the courtroom.
Image: HELMUT FOHRINGER (APA)

The two women spoke on the phone several times, and in the evening the second defendant finally contacted a social worker who was not involved in the case and drove with her to the main defendant’s home. The mother finally alerted emergency services on the spot, but only after repeated and urgent requests from the social worker. The child was taken to a hospital and treated in the intensive care unit.

Expert: The boy’s personality is likely to remain “deformed”

The boy is now doing well physically and lives with his father. However, an expert saw the 13-year-old’s “greatly increased likelihood that his personality will remain deformed in the future.” Post-traumatic stress disorder is present.

The role of child and youth welfare services was also highlighted during the trial. After two reports of danger, there were unannounced home visits to the mother and son on October 28th and November 18th, 2022. Although abnormalities were identified, no reason was seen for a so-called imminent danger measure. The child and youth welfare service emphasized last year that an immediate examination of the internal processes after the case became known showed that “all requirements were met.” A six-person, independent expert group was set up.

The case was re-examined

On Thursday, the office of Lower Austria’s regional councilor Ulrike Königsberger-Ludwig (SPÖ) confirmed upon request that a new examination of the case had been initiated due to new details that had become known from the court proceedings and that were not reflected in the previous files. It was also announced that the report from the Child Protection Commission was now available and the results would be reported on at the next meeting of the state government next Tuesday. The public should then be informed accordingly.

After the jury trial is over, victim advocate Ruisinger wants to check whether the right steps have been taken by child and youth welfare services. The question arises as to whether the events could have been prevented. The lawyer announced in an interview with the APA that the country will be confronted with the allegations in the coming weeks.

LOWER...STERREIA: TRIAL FOR, INCLUDING ATTEMPTED MURDER, AGAINST WOMAN WHO IS SUBJECT TO LOCKING HER TWELVE-YEAR-OLD SON IN A DOG BOX IN THE WALDVIERTEL AND TORQUEING IT
The Krems regional court was the venue for the hearing surrounding the allegations.
Image: HELMUT FOHRINGER (APA)

The son’s mother could face up to life in prison if convicted of attempted murder. The 33-year-old denied this charge. The woman from the Waldviertel pleaded guilty to the allegations of torturing or neglecting underage, younger or defenseless people as well as deprivation of liberty. The penalty for the co-defendant for continued use of violence as a contributor or intended perpetrator is up to 15 years. The 40-year-old pleaded guilty in principle, but then severely limited this responsibility when she was questioned on Monday.

The jury retired shortly before 3 p.m.

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