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Top court upholds 30-yr prison term for couple for starving 2-year-old daughter to death

National 14:33 May 19, 2023

SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Court upheld a 30-year prison sentence Friday for a mother and stepfather accused of neglect and starvation that resulted in the death of their 2-year-old daughter last year.

The couple in their 20s, who resided in Ulsan, 299 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was found guilty of causing the child's death through abuse and negligence, including failure to provide adequate food for about five months starting from October 2021.

The young girl died on March 3, 2022, due to malnutrition and cerebral hemorrhage.

The couple was also charged with mistreating their 17-month-old son, resulting in his suffering from malnutrition and developmental problems.

This undated file photo shows the Supreme Court building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

This undated file photo shows the Supreme Court building in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Investigations revealed that despite receiving child benefits from the government, the couple frequently deprived their children of food and left them unattended in the house for as long as 25 hours while they went out to meet friends or play games.

Last July, a district court handed down a 30-year prison sentence, saying, "It is difficult to imagine the pain and fear that the victim must have felt."

The court also ordered the defendants to participate in a child abuse treatment program and banned them from working in child-related facilities for 10 years.

On appeal, the couple blamed each other for their daughter's death.

The mother argued their daughter died due to her husband's beating, not starvation. The stepfather argued he should not be held accountable for murder by child abuse since he was not the victim's legal guardian.

The appeals court, however, ruled the two conspired in the child's death, noting neither of them restrained the other's behavior while continuing to engage in acts of abandonment.

The Supreme Court dismissed the defendants' appeal, confirming the previous ruling.


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