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Friday, February 27, 1998 Published at 23:27 GMT

World: Americas

Mother of obese teen escapes jail
image: [ Christina's life and death sparked a heated debate about obesity. ]
Christina's life and death sparked a heated debate about obesity.

A woman in San Francisco convicted of child abuse following the death of her obese teenage daughter has escaped a prison term.

Marlene Corrigan was sentenced to three years probation and 240 hours of community service.

[ image: Marlene Corrigan: guilty of child neglect.]
Marlene Corrigan: guilty of child neglect.
Her daughter, Christina, was 13 and weighed 672lbs (305 kg) when she died of heart failure in 1996. Her death sparked a national debate in America about society's attitude towards people who are overweight.

Unable to move, she slept on the same mattress where she spent day after day watching television.

When her body was found she was covered in bed sores, lying in her own excrement and urine, with fast-food containers scattered around her.

Her mother was found guilty of child neglect in January. Prosecutors said they brought the case, not because of the weight of her child but because of the appalling conditions in which she was found.

If the prosecution had managed to have Mrs Corrigan convicted of a felony rather than a misdemeanour, she would have faced up to six years in jail.

Activists campaigning on behalf of people who are overweight said she was persecuted solely because of her daughter's size, by a society obsessed with being thin.

The defence had maintained Christina's weight was due to a rare medical condition.

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