German parents jailed for starving daughter to death

German parents jailed for starving daughter to death
Photo: DPA
A German mother and father were sentenced on Wednesday for murdering their 5-year-old daughter Lea-Sophie by starvation.

The Schwerin district court handed both the 24-year-old mother and the 26-year-old father prison time of 11 years and 9 months for child abuse and murder.

“Both of the accused stood by and did nothing while their own flesh and blood wasted away in misery,” head judge Robert Piepel said when the verdict was announced. The parents denied their daughter help “that would have been so easy to get,” he said.

On November 20, 2007, Lea-Sophie died of dehydration and starvation, having refused food for weeks after her younger brother was born. She weighed just 7.4 kilogrammes (16.3 pounds) – less than half her normal weight – when she died. She was rushed to the hospital with severe deficiency symptoms and bed sores, but died shortly thereafter. An autopsy showed that she died of starvation, dehydration and painful ulcers.

“It should never have gone that far,” the mother told the court in the German state of Mecklenburg Western-Pomerania.

During the trial, psychiatric experts said they had discovered clues of personality disorders in both parents, who said didn’t seek medical care for their daughter in fear that child services would take her away. The mother also admitted that she had felt ashamed that she struggled to care for her family and household. During the trial it was revealed that the father often used video games to escape his troubles. The family became increasingly isolated as Lea-Sophie’s health deteriorated, the court found.

Despite the fact that the family had been reported to child services on numerous occasions, the city faces no charges in Lea-Sophie’s death, the court said.