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KILLER OF BOY WITH AUTISM WALKS; JUDGE BLAMES SOCIAL SERVICES FOR DEATH  — 4Aug03 was like any other day, Daniela Dawes [Channel 9 television program “A Current Affair”] explained:.  “I prepared for work that day, I showered, I got dressed, I prepared Jason’s things for school, just like every day,” she said. Then she went to her 10-year-old son’s bed and used her hand to pinch closed his nose and mouth — until he suffocated to death.
Mrs. Dawes then tried killing herself by slashing her wrists. She was rescued by her mother.  Dawes was released on a 5-year “good behavior bond”, which is similar to probation, after being convicted on a reduced charge of manslaughter in the death of her son, who had autism. New South Wales District Court Judge Roy Ellis said that Dawes, 39, who experienced severe depression at the time of the crime, “had suffered enough” and that no sentence he could give would compare to the punishment she would continue to inflict upon herself. Ellis went on to slam social service agencies for not providing enough assistance to the Dawes family, which was dealing with marital problems along with the high level of care that Jason required. Dawes agreed to appear on “A Current Affair” after arranging for $10,000 to go to an undisclosed person other than herself or her daughter.
Australian law does not allow people convicted of a major crime to benefit financially from it. In a New Zealand case [Oct 1998] Janine Thomson was charged with the strangulation murder of her 17-year-old daughter Casey, who also had autism.  Like in the Dawes case, Thomson was tried for murder but convicted of manslaughter in her daughter’s death. She was sentenced to serve four years in prison, but the Court of Appeal later reduced her sentence to 18 months following pressure from the public. Mrs. Thomson was released after serving just five months. [By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express June 2, 2004, Sydney, Australia; Nancy Valko, RN June 06, 2004]