James Marsh, age 11, died as a result of abuse by his mother, Sarah Marsh, and his stepfather Martin Marsh*. James was homeschooled.
James was diagnosed with autism and ADHD around 2003. He received disability services as late as 2008. Sarah and Martin Marsh married in 2009. The Marshes moved to Central West in 2010 with James and their two other children (one Sarah’s, one Martin’s). James was withdrawn from school to be homeschooled in October 2010. He was kept half-naked, strapped to a portable toilet seat in the laundry room for up to 12 hours at a time, and restrained with PVC pipes and a bag over his head. In early September 2011, James last saw his pediatrician; his parents began locking him in the garden shed that night. In late September, James defecated on the floor and Martin Marsh rubbed his face in it, then doused him with water before leaving him restrained outside. James died of hypothermia; at the time of his death, he weighed only 52 lbs. The Marshes called the authorities when they found James unresponsive.
The Marshes were charged with manslaughter. Martin Marsh pleaded guilty and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Sarah Marsh was found not guilty.
*These are the pseudonyms supplied to the Australian media.
Date: September 30, 2011
Location: Central West, New South Wales, Australia