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Mother killed her young son 'to end his suffering'

By Dong Zhen   (Shanghai Daily)

08:06, September 07, 2011

A 20-year-old woman in southwest China's Chong-qing Municipality has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for fatally poisoning her young son to end his suffering from syphilis.

The young mother fed her 16-month-old boy biscuits laced with rat poison last November, Chongqing prosecutors said yesterday.

Financial pressure to cover the child's medical bills was a major motive behind the killing, according to prosecutors.

The boy was born on July 19, 2009, and was diagnosed with second-stage syphilis in Wuhan City in Hubei Province, where his parents had married.

The couple was asked to pay 7,000 yuan (US$1,100) in advance to treat the boy in hospital. However, the parents had already tried treatment using ointment and disinfectant fluid and refused the hospital's help, even though their son had sores, a symptom of syphilis.

Their treatment relieved the sores, leading the couple to believe their son could be cured without being hospitalized, which would have cost the family considerably.

The parents took their son back to the husband's hometown in Chongqing early last November and the boy's syphilis advanced until the sores began to ulcerate.

On the morning of November 28, the mother carried her son to a village pharmacy and bought a box of rat poison, according to prosecutors.

She told the pharmacist that she needed it to kill rats at her home. She was so nervous that she dropped the box of poison in the shop and had to buy a new one.

The following day she coated biscuits with the toxic powder and fed them to her son. When she awoke the next morning, her son was dead beside her.

She reportedly told the court: "I could not afford to allow my son's sores to get any worse and wanted only to help him by ending his suffering."

The family sent for a doctor who pronounced the boy dead, but a relative was suspicious of the sudden death, alerted the police and handed them what was left of the rat poison.

The woman was arrested and investigators concluded the boy was killed by rat poison.

Syphilis is a sexually transmitted disease that can be passed from mother to child in the womb or at birth. It can be treated effectively with antibiotics.

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