In God’s name, why?

Matthew Tirado suffered from severe intellectual disabilities and autism  At the age of 17 years, he was 5’9″ tall but weighed only 84 pounds (38 kgs).  His 34 year old mother* had (apparently to prevent him stealing food) screwed all of the cupboards closed and locked the refrigerator.  So severe were the restrictions that at the end the Connecticut teenager was reduced to foraging in the rubbish for food and to consuming oils and condiments.  On 14 February 2017 he died of fatal child abuse syndrome with dehydration and malnutrition.  His mother took no steps to secure medical help for him.  She was charged with first degree manslaughter.

The 2005 Connecticut Code §53a-55 relevantly provides that

A person is guilty of manslaughter in the first degree when … under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life, [s]he recklessly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes the death of another person.

The defendant pleaded guilty in the Hartford Superior Court.  Her lawyer noted that she was herself intellectually limited and had grown up in circumstances of neglect.  Judge Baldini noted that the defendant had “failed to provide her son the basic necessities of life”.  Painfully, she observed that “Ms Tirado’s intellectual limitations and becoming a parent at a very young age coupled with her son’s significant cognitive impairments created a perfect storm for Matthew’s untimely death”

Pursuant to a plea agreement the Court sentenced her to 17 years imprisonment, six years of which was suspended, with five years probation.

State v Tirado (2018), NY Times, 5 June 2018; Hartford Courant, 5 June 2018.


* Alert readers will note the age difference.  Matthew’s mother was impregnated at the age of 15 by then-40 year old Pedro Gomez.  In subsequent news reports, Gomez claimed to be upset at Matthew’s fate despite having left the defendant to raise her child as a single mother.  My views on that point are not fit to be put in writing.

Sick. Sicker.

Illness leading to injury.  No winners here.

Between September 2016 and March 2017 a disabled 37 year old man in Melbourne, Australia, made a number of phone calls to mothers.  He posed as an emergency responder.  He told each one that her daughter had been killed in a road accident.  Each one was deeply shocked by the phone call.  One was later diagnosed with depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Another was left with sleep problems.  The offender was charged with three instances of stalking and of recklessly causing injury, and also two instances of using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.


Image from here

The Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) §21A relevantly provides that –

(1) A person must not stalk another person. Penalty: Level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).

(2) A person (the offender) stalks another person (the victim) if the offender engages in a course of conduct which includes … contacting the victim or any other person by post, telephone, fax, text message, e-mail or other electronic communication or by any other means whatsoever; … with the intention of … arousing apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person.

(3) For the purposes of this section an offender also has the intention to … arouse apprehension or fear in the victim for his or her own safety or that of any other person if … the offender knows that engaging in a course of conduct of that kind would be likely to cause such harm or arouse such apprehension or fear …

The matter was dealt with before Judge McInerney in the Melbourne County Court.  It was put on his behalf that he had significant mental problems including autism, a socialization disorder and Tourette’s syndrome.  The Court said that the offences were bizarre, heinous and grievous, but that the offender’s illness required his punishment to be moderated.

The offender was sentenced to serve three months imprisonment in addition to the roughly 15 months he had spent on remand.  He was ordered to complete a community corrections order including mental treatment on release.

Director of Public Prosecutions v Zillner (2018) The Age, 7 June 2018, p.11

In re death of Bailey (2014) H&FLR 2015-16

Inquest into the death of Keiran Bailey (2014) H&FLR 2015-16

Coroners’ Court of Victoria

25 August 2014

Coram: Coroner Spanos

No appearances.

Catchwords: Victoria – Coroner – cyclist – hit by car – death – mental illness – fitness to drive – duty to report

Facts: The deceased was aged 44 years.  On 8 March 2011 at around 1:45pm he cycled from his home to a shopping centre.  He was cycling in a designated bike lane of a road.  The car lanes of the road at the relevant point narrowed from three lanes to two. A car driven by a Mr Veerman, travelling at least 10 kph (6 mph) above the speed limit failed to merge, drove into the bike lane and struck the deceased, causing fatal injuries.  Mr Veerman fled the scene and was subsequently convicted of a range of offences relating to the collision: R v Veerman (2011), Herald Sun, 23 December 2011*.

In the years before the collision Mr Veerman had suffered from marked mental illness and had received some level of psychiatric care.  He held a drivers licence at the time of the collision.

Held: It was recommended that medical professionals be educated to ensure patients’ fitness to drive would be at the front of doctors’ minds when assessing patients with conditions likely to affect their capacity to drive safely.


The Court’s judgment is available here.


* A partially successful appeal by Veerman was subsequently brought: Veerman v R (Vic. Ct App., Weinberg and Harper JJA, T Forrest AJA, 24 August 2012, unreported).