Acting state Supreme Court Justice, Robert Neary, said Spears’ crime was ‘unfathomable in its cruelty’ and brought her son ‘five years of torment and pain’. But he said he was not imposing the maximum 25 years to life because ‘one does not have to be a psychiatrist to realise you suffer from Munchausen by proxy’.
While it was not used as a defence, doctors have speculated Spears has the rare psychological syndrome, Munchausen by proxy, which causes a carer to intentionally harm a child for attention and sympathy.
‘Five years of pain’ devastating￼s he writhed in his hospital bed complaining of a terrible stomach ache, little Garnett Spears’ mum, Lacey, was there for him every moment.
To the outside world, 26-year-old Lacey seemed like the perfect mother, one who had been dealt a devastating hand.
Her soulmate, Blake, a police officer had passed away in a car accident. On top of that, Garnett, five, had been suffering from a mystery illness for years.
When he was five days old he was rushed to hospital for an ear infection with blood pouring from his nose. And from then onwards he’d had fevers, infections and seizures.
At nine months, dietary problems left him needing a feeding tube. Doctors couldn’t find what was wrong and Lacey started documenting his struggles on a blog, Garnett’s Journey, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.
Alongside pictures of her cute, blond, blue-eyed boy, her heartfelt posts about missing her fiancé attracted a wide following. We’ve done OUR unthinkable. We have together survived nearly 365 days, a complete year without Blake, my soulmate and Garnett’s Daddy, Lacey wrote in September 2012.
It hasn’t been easy or even remotely enjoyable. The past year has been the hardest year of my life. But there was worse to come.
On January 19, 2014, Garnett was airlifted to a children’s intensive care unit following a bout of seizures. With her little boy desperately unwell, Lacey turned to her social media following for support. Please, please, send G some love. Went from fine to really sick in minutes, she wrote on Facebook, adding a photo of her boy in hospital with tubes snaking over him.
Garnett’s downward spiral was documented in a series of posts.
Lacey wrote that he was screaming in pain and on January 22 she shared that she was going to have to turn off his life support.
Garnett declared brain dead, she wrote. I’m not ready to let him go.
One last post, on January 23, broke the hearts of her global following.
Garnett the Great journeyed onward today at 10.20am.
To the world, it seemed as though Lacey was living everyone’s worst nightmare. But what her followers didn’t know was that some medical professionals were beginning to suspect it was of her own making.
Before he died, tests revealed Garnett had incredibly high levels of sodium in his body. Such high levels couldn’t have occurred naturally, so where had they come from?
Suspecting child abuse, police were called. And they ruled Garnett had been murdered.
The prime suspect was the woman at his side throughout it all – his mum.
Lacey was charged with murder and the picture she’d created of the grieving, single mum quickly crumbled.
The evidence included two feeding bags found in her apartment that were heavily tainted with salt, one of which Lacey had asked a friend to dispose of for her. One bag had the equivalent of 69 McDonald’s salt packets in it, a forensic toxicologist found. They also discovered research on Lacey’s computer into the dangers of sodium in children.
That June, Lacey Spears appeared in court and pleaded not guilty.During her trial, the prosecution accused Lacey of using her son’s feeding tube to slowly poison Garnett by forcing salt into his stomach, which led to a swollen brain, seizures and eventually his death.
In a further twist, a man claiming to be Garnett’s father came forward. Far from the high school sweetheart taken in a tragic accident, Chris Hill was a man Lacey dated for a few months.
After she fell pregnant she moved away.
‘All of a sudden, she just acted like I didn’t exist,’ Chris said. ‘She just wanted to be a mother and not have a father involved.’ Blake hadn’t died in a car accident at all – he never even existed. It was another of the lies in the web Lacey had spun.
‘The motive is bizarre, the motive is scary, but it exists,’ the prosecutor said. ‘She apparently craved the attention of her family, her friends, her co-workers and the medical profession.’
Lacey was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail. She continues to protest her innocence.
‘I didn’t hurt him. I never poisoned him with salt,’ she said after the trial. And more recently she talked to the media about her life in jail.
‘I hear them talking behind my back, calling me “baby killer”, “child killer”, and “mother of the year”. But I know it’s not who I am.’
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