A woman reacts to messages left at Surfers Paradise to the baby who washed up on the beach on Tuesday. Picture: AAP/John Gass
A woman reacts to messages left at Surfers Paradise to the baby who washed up on the beach on Tuesday. Picture: AAP/John Gass

Dad who ‘sacrificed’ baby faces murder charge

A HOMELESS man who allegedly sacrificed his baby daughter to the sea believing she was possessed by demons will face Tweed Heads Court today charged with murder.

It comes as heartbreaking details emerge about the baby's young mum, who has been released without charge into mental healthcare after assisting police with their investigations.

News Corp Australia can reveal the private school-educated Geelong woman, 23, moved to Queensland several years ago to further her university studies, only to fall under the spell of her 48-year-old partner.

The court was yesterday told the man, a transient, was a violent schizophrenic with a lengthy criminal rap sheet.

Police divers look for evidence at Jack Evans Boat Harbour. Picture: AAP/John Gass
Police divers look for evidence at Jack Evans Boat Harbour. Picture: AAP/John Gass

They lived rough in parks up and down the Gold Coast with their two young children, travelling in a battered black Toyota HiAce van.

She is understood to be estranged from her family, who had tried to bring her home.

The couple's naked baby was found washed up on Surfers Paradise Beach on Monday, but police allege she was thrown into Jack Evans Boat Harbour at the mouth of the Tweed River and her tiny body swept 30km north.

Her father faced an extradition hearing in Southport Magistrates Court yesterday wearing a hospital gown. He sat in the dock with his arms folded, showing no emotion.

The court heard he was a violent schizophrenic with previous convictions for charges including assault occasioning bodily harm.

Before being extradited to NSW, he was sentenced to 12 months' jail for attacking a Gold Coast City Council worker in sand dunes at Broadbeach in early September.

Southport Magistrates Court heard the council officer had come to warn the man and his partner about illegal beach camping with their two children.

The nine-month-old girl’s former Gold Coast “home”.
The nine-month-old girl’s former Gold Coast “home”.

The man threw bottles and other items at the officer, hurled abuse, and threatened him with a large stick. The court heard the officer feared for his safety and activated his body-worn camera.

Defence lawyer Sunil Dutt, of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, said his client believed he was defending his family.

Mr Dutt said the man had "a very poor upbringing", was put in foster care as a child, had been homeless most of his life, and was on a disability pension "because of mental health issues".

The dead baby’s parents with one of their children
The dead baby’s parents with one of their children

Magistrate John Costanzo said the man had made threats of violence "to a person who was just doing his job" and it was no "run of the mill public nuisance". He jailed the man for 12 months but released him into the custody of NSW detectives.

Inspector Brendan Cullen, of Tweed Heads police, said a murder warrant had been issued for the man, but he declined to comment on the sacrifice allegation.

"I can't say anything about that," he told reporters.

Police will allege the baby was murdered between 6.45pm last Saturday and 5am on Sunday.

Insp Cullen said police divers were continuing to search Jack Evans Boat Harbour for clues, and poring through CCTV footage of the couple's movements before they were arrested at Broadbeach on Monday during a domestic incident, hours after the baby's body was found.

NSW and Queensland police detectives at Southport Court for the extradition hearing. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT
NSW and Queensland police detectives at Southport Court for the extradition hearing. Picture: NIGEL HALLETT

He said autopsy results would be "extremely important" in what was still a "dynamic investigation".

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said questions would be asked of child safety departments in both Queensland and NSW.

"I think we need to recognise that homelessness is a big issue," she said.

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said her department dealt with 84,000 children a year and "we do our best" to protect them.

"If a child is known to Child Safety and it comes to harm, then it will be investigated," she said.

"Everyone wants answers, and we're going to get those answers."



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