Mum jailed for leaving toddler in hot car, causing him to become severely disabled

A Melbourne mother who caused her son to become severely disabled by leaving the 14-month-old in a hot car for almost five hours while she played pokies has been jailed.

Kaija Millar, 34, has been sentenced to three years’ jail with a non-parole period of 12 months before the County Court, having previously pleaded guilty to negligently causing serious injury.

The court heard Millar left her son Easton in her car for four hours and 50 minutes on January 15, 2020 as she played bingo and used the pokies at a Point Cook hotel.

Kaija Millar. (Nine)

It was already 31C when Millar parked the car just before 10am, leaving Easton inside with all the car’s windows shut and no air conditioning on.

The temperature outside reached 37.5C while she was inside the hotel.

When Millar returned to the car just before 3pm, Easton was foaming at the mouth, convulsing and not responsive, the court heard.

Millar rushed into the hotel to get help, lying to people who helped about what had happened to Easton.

She said he was suffering from the bushfire smoke haze in the area, then said Easton had only been in the car for two hours with the windows down and air conditioning on.

It was heard she told paramedics not to tell her husband she had been at the pokies and claimed she had checked on Easton every two hours, which CCTV footage disproved.

Easton has been left with severe disabilities that “affect all aspects of his functioning”.

Kaija Millar outside court in November. (Nine)

He has cerebral palsy and is blind.

The court heard Easton, who had been a healthy baby before being left in the hot car, was now fully dependent on carers to live and would only become more dependent with age.

Judge Felicity Hampel said Easton’s disabilities were a direct consequence of Millar’s actions.

“This was not a tragic accident,” she said.

“Your son suffered these injuries because you left him unattended and uncared for inside a locked car on a scorching hot day.

“A reasonable mother.. would have realised her conduct… created a high risk of death or really serious injury.”

The court heard the former Uber driver had struggled as a first time mother, had experienced post natal depression and had a lower than average intellectual functioning, with an IQ of between 69-72.

Judge Hampel said she accepted those factors impaired Millar’s judgement and reduced Millar’s moral culpability, but said she was simultaneously satisified Millar knew she should not have left Easton in the car, pointing to her lies afterwards.

The judge said she also took into account that Millar had been punished by media attention on her court case and her son’s condition.

However, Judge Hampel said jail was still the only option to punish Millar in the interests of deterring others from committing similar crimes.

The maximum sentence for the charge of negligently causing serious injury is 10 years’ jail.

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