Bail refused mother of dead child



'HORRIFIC and somewhat chilling.'

That was how police prosecutor Sergeant Mark Sinclair described to Coffs Harbour Local Court yesterday the police facts on the alleged murder of a seven-week-old boy.

The boy's mother, Natasha Lee Hill, 18, of Nambucca Heads, is charged with murder, maliciously causing bodily harm to a dependant, refusing to provide for a dependant and endangering life, maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent, and maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm.

Hill's partner and the baby's father, Paul Collings, 24, is charged with being an accessory after the fact to murder, acting with intent to pervert the course of justice, hindering a police investigation, two counts of intimidating with intent, refusing to provide for a dependant and endangering life, and two counts of cannabis possession.

Both were refused bail to reappear in Moree Local Court on February 19.

The court heard the couple has another child who is in the care of the Department of Community Services.

Police arrested the pair at Nambucca Heads on Tuesday following extensive investigations by Strike Force Juba.

Police say the baby was taken by ambulance to Bingara Hospital on May 5, suffering from serious head injuries. He was later taken to Tamworth Base Hospital, where he died the next day.

In opposing bail for Hill, Sgt Sinclair said the prosecution case against her was a strong one, there were independent witnesses, experts had provided medical evidence, and police had taped telephone conversations.

In his bail application, Hill's solicitor, Frank Falcomata, said his client had no criminal record and was not a flight risk because she had family ties here and wished to remain in the area.

He said she was actively seeking work as a waitress in the Nambucca Heads area, and also wanted to be a beauty therapist.

"If she was to be placed in custody, the bond between her and her daughter would be irretrievably damaged," Mr Falcomata said.

Collings' solicitor, Hugo Schleiger, said his client would plead not guilty because he 'vehemently resists the charges'.

"His involvement in this is denied," Mr Schleiger said.

Collings had helped in efforts to resuscitate the baby, and had driven the ambulance while paramedics worked on the child.

In opposing bail, Sgt Sinclair said the prosecution case against Collings was strong and his involvement was 'substantial'.

He had prior firearms offences and had access to firearms, and police were also concerned he could intimidate witnesses.



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