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Brisbane woman accused of daughter's attempted murder claims she was "possessed"

“My hands might have done it but my head didn’t do it.”

By Kate Wagner
Brisbane woman accused of daughter's murder claims she was "possessed"
Ashleigh Watterson outside court: Image courtesy of 7News

A woman accused of twice attempting to kill her baby has told courts that she was possessed by the devil.

Ashleigh Meagan Watterson confessed to the crimes, but told police in 2013, almost three years later, “my hands might have done it but my head didn’t do it”.

“I never wanted to hurt [Sarah] but at those events, I feel I was possessed,” she said in a signed police statement presented to the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“I believe I have the love of God and this is not the person who I am. I feel that the devil attacked and made me do things.”

Her daughter Sarah died when she was 21-months-old of an undetermined cause, but Watterson is not on trial for her death.

She has pleaded not guilty to two counts of attempted murder and assault occasioning grievous bodily harm over alleged attempts to kill her daughter when she was four and five months old in 2010.

The now 30-year old was 23 when she “unsuccessfully tried to murder [Sarah] on two separate occasions,” Crown prosecutor Daniel Boyle told the jury. “She did that by the deliberate obstruction to the airways.”

Although Sarah recovered from the first alleged attempt after being revived by paramedics, “the period of lack of blood and oxygen to the brain resulted in severe brain damage,” Mr Boyle said.

At the time, Watterson said she had left Sarah on the floor at their home for less than a minute and when she came, the baby was unresponsive and blue. After six days in the hospital, Sarah was found again blue, unresponsive and not breathing just an hour after being discharged.

Three weeks later, Watterson again allegedly attempted to kill her daughter while at the hospital to discuss a non-resuscitation order for Sarah with doctors and nurses, the court heard.

She took her daughter outside but when they returned to the ward, nurses noticed Sarah was limp and her translucent skin cool to the touch, Boyle said.

During one of these visits to the hospital in 2010, Watterson allegedly told a patient "I tried to kill my baby. It's just breathed".

When she confessed to police in 2013, she also sent her then-husband Mark a text saying, "I'm not planning to tell anyone that I'm guilty. No one else needs to know."

Another family member, Janet Dilena, has said Watterson confided in her that she stopped Sarah from breathing and was having trouble coping in the wake of giving birth to Sarah, her third child, so close to losing her other daughter Lara to SIDS in 2009.

In the upcoming weeks, doctors are expected to testify that they could not find any medical cause for Sarah’s alleged apnoea and that Sarah never suffered a lack of oxygen attack during her multiple stays at the hospital, The Courier Mail reports.

The trial continues.

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