A dog crate displayed at the courtroom. Image Credit: AFP

Vienna: An Austrian woman has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for locking her son in a small dog cage and torturing and starving him.

The woman went on trial on Monday, accused of repeatedly beating and starving her son between July and November 2022 when he was 12, locking him in a dog cage and pouring cold water over him in freezing temperatures.

A court in Krems in northeastern Austria on Thursday found the 33-year-old guilty of all charges, which included attempted murder.

Her 40-year-old friend and alleged accomplice was handed a 14-year jail sentence for encouraging her via chat messages and phone calls.

Thursday's verdicts can be appealed. The court has ordered both women to undergo therapy.

A psychiatrist told the court that the mother - who is suffering from a severe and persistent mental illness - had developed a "paranoid symbiotic relationship" with her "manipulative" friend.

The mother was arrested in late 2022 after a social worker - reportedly called by the friend - found the boy severely malnourished, comatose and suffering from hypothermia.

The woman is said to have doused her son with cold water while opening the apartment's windows for several hours in sub-zero temperatures, causing his body temperature to drop to a life-threatening 26.8 degrees Celsius (80.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

During the trial, both women traded blame, with the mother apologising for her actions and claiming she merely wanted to "discipline" her son, according to Austrian news agency APA.

The presiding judge found the boy has been psychologically "completely destroyed".

The mother's accomplice said in court she had been unaware of the scale of the inflicted abuse, despite their exchanges proving the opposite.

The state government has also set up a commission to investigate whether authorities could have done more to rescue the boy earlier.

Der Standard daily reported the boy previously ran away from his mother, but was taken back to her.