Girl, 8, died after religious cult parents withheld life-saving insulin because ‘God would heal her’

AN EIGHT-year-old girl with diabetes died after her parents withheld life-saving insulin, a court heard.

Her mum, dad and other members of the religious cult they belong to allegedly believed “God would heal her”.

GoFundMeElizabeth Struhs died after members of a religious cult withheld life-saving medication, it is alleged[/caption]

EPAA court sketch of the group charged over her death[/caption]

Little Elizabeth Struhs was found dead at her home in Toowoomba, Australia, on January 7, 2022 – after a reported six days without the drug.

Fourteen members of the religious group The Saints, which includes the girl’s parents, are accused of praying for her to get better instead of seeking medical attention, The Guardian reports.

Elizabeth’s dad Jason Richard Struhs is charged with murder, along with 62-year-old Brendan Luke Stevens – another member of the group.

Her mum Kerrie Elizabeth Struhs, 49, and brother Zachary Alan Struhs, 21, have been charged with manslaughter, alongside 10 others.

This includes Brendan Luke Stevens’ wife Loretta Mary Stevens, 67, and their children Acacia Naree Stevens, 31, Therese Maria Stevens, 37, Sebastian James Stevens, 23, Andrea Louise Stevens, 34, Camellia Claire Stevens, 28, and Alexander Francis Stevens, 26.

On Wednesday, the group refused to enter a plea at the start of the trial, where they are appearing without a lawyer, the BBC reports.

Crown prosecutor Caroline Marco previously told Brisbane Supreme Court that Elizabeth died from diabetic ketoacidosis (blood glucose levels remain dangerously high) after her insulin medication was withdrawn.

This caused her to “suffer for days” as her health deteriorated, she added.

Describing Elizabeth as “intelligent, spiritual child”, Ms Marco submitted that she was “too young to understand the dire consequences of her parents’ decision to withdraw insulin for her, which she ultimately paid for with her own life”.

The youngster, who had type 1 diabetes, was taken off insulin entirely on January 3, 2022.

The judge heard she spent several days in pain and vomiting after meals before falling unconscious, according to news.com.au.

Elizabeth was never taken to hospital. Instead, the cult allegedly held a “prayer ritual”, which involved playing guitar, singing and praying over her.

Her body was reportedly found on a mattress on the tiled floor of the downstairs living area in her family’s home in Rangeville.

Mr Struhs failed to administer insulin or seek medical help despite knowing it could kill his daughter, it is alleged.

Mr Stevens is accused of unlawfully killing Elizabeth by counselling her dad, mum or both into not providing her with the drug.

Ms Struhs is charged with manslaughter on the allegation of not providing insulin to her daughter.

“Her parents were well aware of Elizabeth’s condition and consequences that would follow having lived through the experience of diabetic ketoacidosis two years earlier when she was first diagnosed and nearly died,” Ms Marco said.

“Their extreme beliefs as a small congregation were that God would heal her.”

The trial is expected to run before Supreme Court Justice Martin Burns for 11 weeks, without a jury.

Type 1 vs type 2 diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes, which causes a person’s blood sugar level to become too high.

Type 1 diabetes is a lifelong condition where the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce the hormone insulin.

It affects around 344,000 people in the UK.

Type 2 diabetes on the other hand is far more common, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the 4.4million adults with diabetes.

It occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the body’s cells don’t react to it properly.

There are no lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk of type 1 diabetes.

But you may be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes if you are overweight or obese, eat unhealthily, have a family history of the condition, take certain medications for a long time, have high blood pressure, and have had gestational diabetes during pregnancy.

People of Asian, Black African or African Caribbean origin are also at increased risk.

Source: NHS and Diabetes UK

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