20 years for woman who poisoned five-year-old son with salt

A 27-year-old US woman from New York state who killed her five-year-old son by poisoning him with salt was jailed for 20 years on Wednesday.

Judge Robert Neary said while Lacey Spears suffered from the mental illness known as Munchausen by proxy, she was guilty of a crime "unfathomable in its cruelty."

Spears, from Scottsville, Kentucky, was convicted of second degree murder last month in the death of her son Garnett-Paul Spears.

During the trial the court heard how the woman had given her son lethal doses of salt through a feeding tube because she craved the attention it gave her.

Judge Neary said the woman's son had suffered "five years of torment and pain."

"One does not have to be a psychiatrist to realize you suffer from Munchausen by proxy," Neary said as he resisted calls to give Spears a 25-year sentence sought by prosecutors.

Munchausen by proxy is a disorder which in some cases sees a caregiver fabricate or induce physical or health problems for those in their care.

District Attorney Janet DiFiore said Spears' son had suffered "repeated hospitalizations, unneeded surgical procedures and ultimately poisoning with salt -- all at the hands of the one person who should have been his ultimate protector: his mother."

"Using the child's 'illnesses" to self-aggrandize herself, her actions directly lead to her son's tortured death," DiFiore said.

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