Father denies killing girl

‘‘NOW we have to prove I didn’t do it,’’ a Hunter Valley man allegedly told his wife soon after the death of their severely disabled nine-year-old daughter.
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It was one of several ‘‘unusual comments’’ police allege they overheard the day the girl died and they were called to the family’s home.

The girl, who had cerebral palsy and weighed just 15kilograms, had been in her 61-year-old father’s care that Sunday in July 2011 while her mother went to work. He said he found his daughter dead in her bed, lying on her chest, and blue about the face.

But yesterday, facing Newcastle Local Court, the father – who cannot be named for legal reasons – was committed for trial for her manslaughter.

The child was described in documents before the court as a ‘‘placid, happy’’ girl adored by her mother and with a reasonable quality of life, despite her condition.

She had suffered what a paediatric specialist described as a ‘‘moderately severe injury’’ comparable to a fall from more than five metres or a crash involving a vehicle travelling more than 50km/h.

The documents include comments from Dr Bruce Curry to an inquest in April last year.

‘‘This is a forceful injury which caused significant muscle tearing,’’ he said.

The girl’s injuries included a ruptured oesophagus, tears to her diaphragm and liver, a lung haemorrhage and internal bleeding. Dr Curry concluded they were most likely caused by an open hand or fist to the upper abdomen.

The inquest also heard from the father’s 24-year-old daughter from his first marriage. She recounted an incident when she was about five years old when she ‘‘did something wrong’’ and her father allegedly threw her from the ground where she was standing against the wall at the top of her bunk. She remembered ‘‘waking up’’ the next morning.

She also said her half-sister was left to cry for extended periods of time while the child’s mother was at work and her father used the computer.

The prosecution says an assault by her father is the only reasonable explanation for girl’s injuries and her subsequent death.

The accused, who was accompanied in court by his wife, has denied intentionally injuring his daughter.

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