Mason Lee died in June 2016.
Mason Lee died in June 2016.

Mason Jet Lee's stepdad sentenced over painful death

MASON Lee's stepfather has been jailed over the Caboolture toddler's slow and painful death after pleading guilty to charges of manslaughter and child cruelty.

Mason was 22 months old in June 2016 when his stepfather William Andrew O'Sullivan, 37, hit the little boy so hard that his intestines ruptured.

O'Sullivan refused to get Mason medical help in the days that followed, ignoring the toddler's worsening condition as his body slowly shut down, yelling at him to "shut up" as he cried and vomited while his organs began to fail.

The Brisbane Supreme Court today lifted suppression orders on the case, and The Courier-Mail can now reveal O'Sullivan was sentenced in Brisbane Supreme Court on August 30 where he admitted to inflicting the fatal blow on the toddler, after previously trying to pin the blame on another young child who he likened to a "serial killer".


Stepfather Andrew William O'Sullivan was sentenced on August 30, it can be revealed.
Stepfather Andrew William O'Sullivan was sentenced on August 30, it can be revealed.


The court heard O'Sullivan only decided to plead guilty to inflicting the blow after finding out the child he tried to blame would be cross-examined in court during his sentence hearings.

Crown prosecutor Vicki Loury said it was likely that the fatal blow happened between two to five days before Mason eventually died alone in O'Sullivan's bedroom in the early hours of June 11, 2016, covered in vomit, lying on the floor and wrapped in a towel.

An autopsy revealed Mason's tiny body was riddled with injuries including a ruptured intestine, fractured coccyx, bruising to his face and body consistent with forceful pushing from fingertips, separation of his scalp tissue and traces of methyl amphetamine in his system.

Ms Loury said in the months before his death, his caregivers had failed to get him treatment for a fractured tibia despite being referred to hospital for X-rays. She said it would have been clear Mason needed help and he would have been unable to bear any weight on that leg.

Mason also had to be admitted to hospital for 22 days with the most severe perianal injuries a treating paediatrician had seen in his 40 years on the job and which resembled a burn injury, as well as severe cellulitis and he required a blood transfusion.


Mason Lee suffered an agonising death
Mason Lee suffered an agonising death


Ms Loury said a number of people who saw Mason in the days before his death noted the boy's unwell appearance and urged O'Sullivan to get him medical help.

"It must have been very obvious he was increasingly unwell as the days went by," she said.

Ms Loury said investigators found Mason's bloodstained nappies and bile-soaked clothes in the house after his death.

"The nappies located in the rubbish are bloodstained, quite heavily bloodstained and as Mr O'Sullivan was caring for him he must have been the person who was changing the nappies - he must have known how very unwell Mason was and did not get him any treatment, showing a real callousness towards him," she said.

"The victim here of course was a defenceless child.

"The circumstances are that the offence resulted in the death of Mason and that was a slow and painful death. The tragedy of course being that is was a treatable condition."

Defence barrister Ruth O'Gorman said O'Sullivan was an ice addict who had a tragic upbringing.

"He's submitted that his failings of Mason during that period of time are a reflection of extremely poor parenting and neglect rather than acts of malice towards Mason," Ms O'Gorman said.

"Mr O'Sullivan instructs that he did love Mason.

"He instructs it incredibly difficult to reconcile that love with the absolutely abject failure that he's displayed in caring for Mason and for causing his death."


O’Sullivan’s barrister said he had been assaulted in prison. Picture: Channel 9
O’Sullivan’s barrister said he had been assaulted in prison. Picture: Channel 9


The barrister said O'Sullivan had been subjected to a series of assaults in prison including an attack in which two prisoners bashed, kicked and stomped him so severely he spent 13 days in hospital with a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain, a broken leg, three broken fingers and the tip of his pinky was amputated.

"As a consequence of that assault … he has a real and in my submission justifiable fear that he will be subjected to further assaults in prison," she said.

"He says there have been threats along those lines."

Chief Justice Catherine Holmes sentenced O'Sullivan to nine years' imprisonment, with parole eligibility after serving six years.

At the time of his sentence, O'Sullivan had already spent 762 days behind bars, meaning he will be eligible for parole on July 29, 2022.

"Mason was about 22 months old when he died - he was a defenceless toddler and you seem to have taken out your anger and frustration against him by the assault which caused the fatal injuries," Justice Holmes said.

"He also suffered some other non-lethal injuries with which you are not charged; their only relevance is to show that in the period over which his life was ebbing he was not treated with any gentleness or kindness.

"Worse, you did nothing to help get help for him despite what must have been his evident distress.

"The cruelty offence sets the scene for the kind of life the little boy had it seems to have been one of neglect, pain and misery."