Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell with Detective Sergeant Aaron Van Schaik.
Assistant Commissioner Max Mitchell with Detective Sergeant Aaron Van Schaik.

Detectives’ ‘complex’ investigation into toddler’s murder

ON Easter Sunday 2014, local detectives were confronted with what is arguably one of the Coffs Coast's most horrific crimes in recent times - the beating and murder of a two-year-old girl.

The young girl had died of blunt force trauma injuries she had sustained in the span of just half an hour when she was left in the care of her mother's partner, Thomas Lock.

During the then 26-year-old's 2017 trial the court heard that a blow to the abdomen had caused rapid bleeding, leaving the infant in a critical condition by the time she reached hospital.

Despite desperate attempts to save her life, she tragically passed away.

Lock was found guilty by the jury and was jailed for 36 years with a non-parole period of 27 years.

Five detectives, Det Sgt Aaron Van Schaik, A/Det Insp Peter O'Reilly, Det Snr Cons Damien Knowles, Det Sgt Matthew Zimmer and Det Snr Cons Geoff Kendall, played a crucial role in Lock's high-profile arrest and subsequent imprisonment.

Superintendent Steve Clarke with Detective Senior Sergeant Peter O'Reilly.
Superintendent Steve Clarke with Detective Senior Sergeant Peter O'Reilly.

The detectives have now been commended for their efforts in providing the family with a "comforting outcome" at the Coffs/Clarence Police District Awards ceremony today.

Superintendent Steve Clarke presented the detectives with medals as family, friends, colleagues and local dignitaries watched on.

Deputy Commissioner Gary Worboys APM and Northern Region Commander Max Mitchell APM were also in attendance.

Insp Brendan Gorman, hosting the ceremony, told the audience that as part of Strike Force Tirik the detectives had conducted a detailed interview with the distraught mother, a harrowing situation which required extreme sensitivity.

Superintendent Steve Clarke with Detective Sergeant Matthew Zimmer.
Superintendent Steve Clarke with Detective Sergeant Matthew Zimmer.

They had also compiled a crime scene warrant applications, surveillance device applications and assisted with collecting statements.

"It was an extremely confronting and complex investigation due to the tender age of the young child and the matter in which she had been abused prior to her death," Insp Gorman said.

Lock will be eligible for parole in 2041.



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