What the Law Says If You Fail to Care for a Child as a Carer with Parental Responsibilities in NSW


It is reported that 22-year-old Jaycob Yarran has allegedly burned a toddler with a cigarette lighter and boiling water. She was allegedly burnt on her stomach by a cigarette lighter.

Yarran who is the partner of the 2-year old girls carer claims that her injuries were caused from a pot of noodles.

It’s reported that when the 2-year-old girl reached the hospital, she presented with burns to her feet, limbs and torso.

The Perth Magistrate’s Court was told that the injuries the little girl sustained were consistent with boiling water placed over her.

While Yarran has claimed that the 2-year-old girl sustained the burns after tipping over noodles in a pot in their home, he also claimed to have not called ambulance due to concerns of costs.

The court heard that the 2-year-old girl was instead placed under the shower.

It was only after police interviewed the girl’s older sister who disclosed to police that Yarran used a fire lighter to hurt her, and she is scared of him.

The girl is currently staying at the Perth’s Children’s Hospital for ongoing treatment.

Yarran was charged with a count of intentionally harming, and an act causing bodily harm. He was charged 3 days subsequent to the girl arriving at hospital and has been granted bail by the court.

What the Law Says if You Fail to Care for a Child Under Your Care in NSW

In NSW, it’s a criminal offence to fail to care for a child if you have parental responsibilities for that child.

The maximum penalty for this crime is 5-years imprisonment pursuant to section 43A Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

What does the prosecution have to prove for the court to find you guilty of this offence?

If the police are able to prove each of the following elements of this charge beyond reasonable doubt in court, you will be found guilty:

  1. You had a parental responsibility for the child; and
  2. You intentionally or recklessly failed to provide the child with the necessities of life without reasonable excuse; and
  3. The failure to do this has caused the child, either death or serious injury.

What is the meaning of a child? Here a child is anyone under the age of 16 years.

When does a person have ‘parental responsibilities’? This is defined in section 43A(1) Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) as “duties, powers, responsibilities and authority in respect of a child that, by law, parents have in relation to their children.” This can include a carer’, teacher, or babysitter.

When is a person considered to be ‘reckless’ here? This occurs if you realised the possibility that the child required necessities of life such as medical attention, but you still failed to provide it to the child regardless.

A ‘serious injury’ here includes burns. It includes assault occasioning actual bodily harm and grievous bodily harm or wounding, which are also separate charges under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW).

Actual bodily harm is injury that is not necessarily permanent, but injury that is more than ‘merely transient or trifling. Examples includes bruises.

Grievous bodily harm is injury that considered to be really serious, permanent or serious disfiguring or even HIV as a grievous bodily disease. Examples of this kind of injury include broken bones and encompasses burnt skin.

Wounding includes the breaking of the skin.

What are the Defences to this Charge?

If charged with this offence, you will be ‘not guilty’ resulting in the charge being dismissed in court unless dropped earlier if any of the following defences apply:

  1. Reasonable excuse defence: For example, where you did not provide the necessities of life to the child due to a necessity or duress; or
  2. No ‘parental responsibilities’: This applies if the accused person does not have a parental responsibility. However, if the accused person caused injuries to a child, he/she can still be charged with assault in NSW which carries heavy penalties.
  3. Mental illness defence.
  4. If any one or more of the elements of the charge are not proven beyond reasonable doubt, a ‘not guilty’ verdict must be returned.

It’s important to protect babies, children and young people, who each have a right to be and feel safe.

Neglecting a child is considered a type of child abuse and the World Health Organisation outlines that head trauma from abuse is one of the most common causes of death. The most vulnerable of all are those who are in their first 2-years of age.

Call our team of criminal lawyers in Newcastle, Parramatta, Sydney city & 5 more convenient locations across NSW if you wish to discuss this topic further.

About Jimmy Singh

Mr. Jimmy Singh is the Principal Lawyer at Criminal Defence Lawyers Australia - Leading Criminal Lawyers in Sydney, Delivering Exceptional Results in all Australian Criminal Courts.

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