Dad pleads guilty to manslaughter of toddler son

A BRISBANE father has this morning had a charge of brutally murdering his toddler son - a boy who spent most of his life short life in foster care because of domestic violence at home - reduced to one of unlawfully killing the boy.

The father, 37, was scheduled to stand trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court today on a charge of murdering his son - then aged two years and nine months - at the family's Windsor St home at Margate on the Redcliffe Peninsula, on September 25, 2007.

However, the man, who cannot be named under existing Queensland law, this morning pleaded not guilty to the charge of murder, but guilty to one count of manslaughter.

Prosecutor Vicki Loury said the Crown accepted the plea to the lesser count of manslaughter, which like a charge of murder can receive a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, in full discharge of the indictment.

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Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, after reading a schedule of agreed facts, said in essence the man admitted assaulting the child and not rendering him proper care, which in turn resulted in the child’s death.

"The Crown accepts (the man's) contention was not to kill or cause the child grievous bodily harm?'' Justice de Jersey asked Ms Loury.

Ms Loury replied: "Yes''.

Barrister Sam Di Carlo, for the father, requested his client be remanded in custody pending the preparation of a psychiatric report – which he said was likely to take up to three months to obtain.

Justice de Jersey ordered the father be remanded in custody for sentence on a date to be fixed.

The man's plea of guilty comes six months after a Supreme Court jury was told at the man’s original trial that his toddler son spent almost all of his life in foster care because of domestic violence at home.

Both the man and the boy's mother, 36, were charged with the boy’s murder - with police alleging the child was brutally bashed to death just months after he was returned to their care.

Prosecutors said the father allegedly "hated'' and "never liked'' his youngest son, one of the couple's three children, and was in sole care of him when the toddler was "severely beaten'' about the head and later died in hospital.

The mother was at Brisbane ’s Domestic Airport to collect her daughter from another relationship with the toddler's siblings when the boy allegedly received several "blunt-force trauma'' blows to his head while at home with his dad.

Prosecutor Vicki Loury last year said the toddler had lived in foster care just three weeks after his birth and until he was 21-months-old due to a "history of domestic violence'' between his parents.

She said the Department of Child Safety approved the boy's return to his parents under a 12-month supervision order in October 2006.

On August 13, the boy's mother was released on immediate parole after her charge of murdering the toddler was reduced to one of cruelty.

The pregnant mother-of-seven was sentenced to 18 months' jail, but after being released on parole was free to set in train her plan to return to New Zealand and be reunited with her surviving kids.

The mother's cruelty involved leaving her toddler son with a man - who she knew was violent, "hated the child'' and often beat him with an electrical cord - while she travelled to Brisbane 's Domestic Airport to collect one of her other children.

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