A mother was suffering from a “significantly disturbed mind” when she placed her three-month-old child on train tracks, causing the driver to activate the emergency brakes and close his eyes as he braced for impact.
Melissa Arbuckle, 32, appeared in Victoria’s Supreme Court in, Melbourne, Australia today (Tuesday, April 5) after pleading guilty to one count of infanticide.
Her lawyer told the court that Arbuckle had a “significantly disturbed mind” and had intended to take her own life too.
On the day of the incident, Arbuckle texted her now estranged husband to say their daughter was “losing it after a feed."
She decided to take the child for a walk, she said, and headed for the tracks at Upwey in Melbourne’s east, where a train driver used her little girl’s hand to wave at the train, the prosecutor said.
Arbuckle started searching the internet for information on trains, including speed, moments into the walk, the court heard.
Then, a train driver heading towards Belgrave station spotted Arbuckle moving towards the tracks in a “suspicious” way, police allege.
The driver activated the emergency brakes as Arbuckle, a veterinarian, placed Lily on the tracks and was trying to lay down herself, the court was told.
The train driver told police he “closed his eyes” when he knew he was going to hit the pair. When emergency services arrived, Arbuckle was trying to self-harm, the court was told.
Lily was rushed to hospital but died a short time later from traumatic head injuries.
In the weeks before the tragedy, the young mum had been “really down."
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The court was told that she believed she injured her baby because she rocked Lily’s bassinet too vigorously.
“She had a fixed delusional belief she had harmed her child and they were both broken,” her lawyer, Ms Megan Tittensor, said.
“She had come to believe dying was her only option. She would hear voices telling her she was a bad mother,” Ms Tittensor added.
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Arbuckle’s estranged husband and Lily’s father, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “It is hard to describe just how painful that was. My dear little girl was gone,” he said.
In a statement read to the court, the train driver said “every night I would dream of death,” after the collision.
The day after the train crash Arbuckle was diagnosed with severe major post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. She will be sentenced on Thursday (April 7).
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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