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Mother of slain toddler Mason Lee is released on bail after five years

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The mother of Queensland toddler Mason Jet Lee who died after being punched in the abdomen has been released on parole.

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Anne Marie Lee and her then-partner William Andrew O’Sullivan pleaded guilty to Mason’s manslaughter and cruelty to a child for failing to get him medical treatment as he suffered an agonising death.

Lee’s application for parole was granted earlier this month and commenced on July 19, the Parole Board said in a decision published on Monday.

She spent nearly five years behind bars following her arrest on August 2, 2016.

Mason was just 22 months old when he was found dead in a house in Caboolture, north of Brisbane, on June 11, 2016.

The blow to his abdomen days earlier ruptured his small intestine, causing his death.

The punch was delivered by O’Sullivan, who pleaded guilty to Mason’s manslaughter and cruelty to a child for failing to get him medical treatment.

O’Sullivan’s jail sentence was increased from nine to 12 years after the attorney-general successfully took the matter to the Queensland Court of Appeal in December 2019.

But the appeal against the nine-year-jail term given to Mason’s mother was dismissed.

The appeal court found Lee had let O’Sullivan keep Mason in his house even though she knew he was a heavy meth user and given to paranoia and violent rages.

But Lee’s neglect could not be compared with an unlawful killing of a child by a deliberate violent act, the appeal judges said.

When sentenced in February 2019, Lee was given a parole eligibility date of July 19 that year.

She first applied for parole in February last year, with the application considered a number of times and additional information obtained.

The Parole Board took into account Lee’s remorse and her experience of domestic violence as a contributing factor to her son’s death, deputy president Peter Shields said in his decision.

A pre-sentence report by psychiatrist Dr Josephine Sundin found Lee’s “criminal neglect of Mason was due to the same disabilities that made her incapable of doing anything to get away from the sphere of influence of a violent and controlling man”.

“An early parole eligibility date was apt to give effect to Lee’s personal circumstances as well as to her early plea and her true remorse, a remorse which is really the permanent burden she will bear because she caused her son’s death,” the appeal court judges said in their decision.

Mr Shields said the nature of Lee’s offences meant she was often targeted by other prisoners in custody, but her custodial behaviour had improved over a long period of time.

She assaulted another prisoner in June, but the two inmates had taken part in mediation and no complaint has been made to police.

The board imposed standard conditions as well as numerous additional ones like curfew conditions for the first three months of her parole order.

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