The mother of baby Anastasia Hand pleaded to the murder of the four-month-old. Picture: GoFundMe
The mother of baby Anastasia Hand pleaded to the murder of the four-month-old. Picture: GoFundMe

Failed fantasy led mum to kill baby

A teenage mother who mistreated her four-month-old baby after the "fantasy" of motherhood did not meet her expectations should receive a fixed jail term rather than a life sentence for murder, her lawyer has told a Perth court.

Cassandra Rose Doohan was aged 18 when she violently shook Anastasia, inflicting catastrophic injuries on the infant, at their Capel home in Western Australia's South West region in May 2017.

Doohan cried in the WA Supreme Court on Monday as details of her offending were outlined.

Anastasia's father found her limp and "floppy" body in her cot after he came out of the shower and the girl died at Princess Margaret Hospital in Perth two days later.

She had suffered traumatic brain and spinal injuries, as well as fractures and bruises.

Doohan, now 20, originally pleaded not guilty to murder but later admitted her crime.

Defence counsel Seamus Rafferty said Doohan's case was exceptional and she should be handed a fixed prison sentence rather than the usual life term for murder.

Anastasia died in hospital after the incident. Picture: GoFundMe
Anastasia died in hospital after the incident. Picture: GoFundMe

If it is granted, she will be only the second person in WA to receive such a sentence for murder.

Mr Rafferty said Doohan had a difficult childhood absent of love and devotion, and had a violent and sadistic father.

He described Doohan as socially inept and said she had wanted to have a baby because she had a fantasy of creating a "perfect little world" for herself.

But the reality of the responsibility of being a mother was very different and Doohan never bonded with her baby.

"When she had Anastasia, it simply became all too real," Mr Rafferty said. "Her concept of motherhood was completely skewed."

Prosecutor James Mactaggart said Anastasia had been seen with bruises weeks before her death and child protection authorities had become involved.

But Mr Rafferty said there had been systemic failures in the lead-up to Anastasia's death.

Justice Anthony Derrick said he needed more time to consider the submissions.

He will sentence Doohan on Tuesday.

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