A couple whose baby daughter died after they treated her with homeopathic remedies instead of conventional medicine have been found guilty of manslaughter.
Gloria Thomas died aged nine months after spending more than half her life with eczema.
The skin condition wore down her natural defences and left her completely vulnerable when she developed an eye infection that killed her within days of developing.
Thomas Sam, 42, a homeopath, and Manju Sam, 37, of Earlwood, Sydney, were charged with manslaughter by gross criminal negligence.
Thomas Sam remained passive as the jury delivered its verdict but Manju Sam's face crumpled and she buried it in her husband's shoulder.
After the jury was discharged, the enormity of what had occurred came over her in waves, crying intermittently and then recovering.
Justice Peter Johnson granted them bail on strict reporting conditions, but Thomas Sam was led into the cells to wait for $30,000 to be posted as surety. The couple, who had held hands through much of the case, hugged one another for a long time before he left with security.
The court heard the couple took Gloria to various health professionals, but while they abandoned each conventional medication she was prescribed within a short time of starting it, they solidly pursued homeopathic remedies.
The Crown said these did not work, and all the while Gloria's tiny body required more nutrition than her mother's milk could provide, and her immune system became ever more depleted.
By the time she died, she was the weight of an average three-month-old, her body was covered with angry blotches and her once black hair had turned completely white.
Gloria had developed eczema when she was four months old, a condition she probably inherited from her mother, which flared and subsided throughout the rest of her short life.
But the couple, who were raised and educated in India where homeopathy is accepted as equivalent to conventional medicine, were steadfast to their homeopathic remedies and ignored completely or quickly discarded other treatment.
A general practitioner booked them an appointment with a dermatologist they did not attend because they took the child to India instead, a course of action the doctor told them was "cruel".
They also visited two doctors in India, but discarded the advice of one to return to him every second day, instead consulting a succession of homeopaths including Thomas Sam's brother, who had recently completed his dissertation on eczema.
Thomas and Manju Sam's lawyers said they had been devoted but misguided parents, and their conduct fell far short of gross criminal negligence.
They had treated Gloria's eczema with the best intentions, and none of the health professionals they consulted - homeopathic and conventional - had warned them that the condition could imperil her life.
But they did not deny that Gloria was uncomfortable for much of her life.
Any improvements in her condition after homeopathic treatment were short-lived, and the rest of the time she was irritable and in pain, crying whenever she was moved and taking refuge only on her mother's breast.
Gloria's miserable life proved all the more poignant by the evidence given at the trial by Dr Orli Wargon, the dermatologist with whom Gloria missed her appointment when the family went to India instead.
Dr Wargon said she would have applied an aggressive treatment program that should have seen the child recover within 24 hours: "Not completely cured, but her skin would look better very, very quickly."
Nine days after they returned from India, Thomas and Manju Sam finally took Gloria to hospital for an eye infection they thought was conjunctivitis, and she was immediately rushed into emergency to be treated by a team of medical experts. It turned out her cornea was melting.
Doctor after doctor told the jury that by the time they saw Gloria in those last few days her skin condition was unlike any they had seen before.
Dr Susannah Cunningham, who was then a pediatric emergency registrar, said Gloria was among only a handful of children whose cases she had been unable to forget.
"I think it's the pain that has made this case stand out for me in my memory," Dr Cunningham said.
"I can vividly recall where she was in the emergency department. I remember the 6½ hours I was involved very clearly. She was in a lot of pain and had been suffering and that's something that doesn't sit well with any pediatrician."
Another doctor, dermatologist Penelope Lee, said she had asked Manju Sam why she had not taken the child to hospital earlier: "And I don't think she gave me an answer for that. She just cried."
Gloria died on May 8, 2002, in her mother's arms, unable in her weakened condition to combat the septicemia that had developed in her left eye.
The pathologist who did the autopsy, Ella Sugo, said she had sought advice from experts outside Australia because she had never seen a child so malnourished and her condition was at a level more commonly observed in third world countries.
But even after Gloria died, Thomas Sam adhered to his belief that homeopathy was equally valid to conventional medicine for the treatment of eczema.
He told police: "Conventional medicine would have prolonged her life ... with more misery. It's not going to cure her and that's what I strongly believe."