Naturopath jailed after baby nearly starved
EXTREME diet naturopath Marilyn Bodnar has been sent to prison for her role in a baby starvation case.
The 62-year-old seemed stunned and reluctant to leave as prison officers entered the courtroom to take her downstairs after she was given a 14 month jail sentence.
Bodnar will have to serve a minimum of seven months behind bars after Judge Peter Berman imposed the sentence.
He said it was a serious consideration to place a woman of her age in prison for the first time.
But he described her ongoing advice to a breastfeeding mother to continue on a raw food fast until "death was within a couple of days" away for her baby son as "highly criminal".
Bodnar earlier agreed never to work with children again.
A court has heard that the naturopath has been bullied on Facebook since admitting to her role in a baby boy's near death from starvation three years ago.
Bodnar has been "punished and suffered" since her July 2015 arrest when police allegedly "handcuffed and paraded her" before media cameras, her defence lawyer Rick Mitry said.
"She has complied with rulings ... never again to work with children," Mr Mitry told a NSW District Court hearing.
But Crown Prosecutor Tony McCarthy said that the community needed to be protected and that Bodnar had "a blind adherence to her own ideology of alternative medicine".
"This blind allegiance was the cause of the child nearly dying," he told the court.
Bodnar was facing a sentencing hearing on Thursday for giving advice to a mother that endangered the woman's eight-month-old son's life.
Bodnar, who has previously been acquitted of manslaughter after one of her clients starved to death on an extreme diet, has pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting a mother in the failure to provide for the necessities of life.
Bodnar advised a breastfeeding mother to cease eating anything other than raw vegetables, fruit and seeds to cure her baby son's eczema.
Bodnar, who has an alternative medicine practice in western Sydney, believes fasting can make incurable diseases miraculously go away.
She saw the boy's mother between February and May 2015 and prescribed the diet to cure the boy's skin condition.
The boy was emaciated, limp and reportedly days away from death when the mother finally took him to hospital in May 2015.
He had a fever, a staph infection, had been vomiting for a week and weighed just 6.39kg, which was in the zero percentile for babies his age.
Bodnar is alleged to have told the boy's mother, who is a midwife, that vomiting was good because it purged "the toxins that caused the eczema".
She also told the mother "Are you 100 per cent raw? You have to be 100 per cent raw if you want your son to heal".
The mother was also charged and given a 14 month suspended jail sentence after pleading guilty to failing to provide for her child.
Bodnar was originally charged with recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to the baby boy, but that charge was dropped.
After she pleaded guilty last August to the aiding and abetting charge, it emerged that she had also previously been tried for manslaughter.
In 1988, Bodnar was charged with manslaughter over the death of a woman who drank only water for 63 days.
Narelle Niemann, 42, lost more than a third of her body weight under Bodnar's care, weighing less than 40kg when she died.
A jury found Bodnar not guilty after she argued that she was helping the late Ms Niemann as a friend and not as a patient.