A tribute to the baby that was found dead on the beach in Surfers Paradise near Staghorn Ave. Photo: Tertius Pickard
A tribute to the baby that was found dead on the beach in Surfers Paradise near Staghorn Ave. Photo: Tertius Pickard

'TRAGEDY': Why dad was found not guilty of baby's murder

A man who threw his baby daughter into the Tweed River has been found not guilty of her murder due to mental illness, with the incident described in court as a "terrible tragedy".

The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, received the special verdict at the NSW Supreme Court in Sydney on Wednesday after Justice Helen Wilson determined he could "not be held criminally responsible" for the act due to mental illness.

Justice Wilson said it was beyond dispute that the man, who was homeless at the time, "cast" his daughter into the Tweed River on the on November 17, 2018, but accepted evidence from several psychiatrists that he was severely mentally ill at the time.

"There is no conflict in the expert evidence," Justice Wilson told the court.

The evidence from psychiatrists was that the man was a "chronic schizophrenic" with "bizarre delusional beliefs" including hallucinations about killing infants, Jesus and the popstar Britney Spears, the court heard.

Police divers are searching for vital evidence at Tweed River in the case of the alleged murder of a nine-month-old girl on the Gold Coast. Picture: Campbell Gellie
Police divers are searching for vital evidence at Tweed River in the case of the alleged murder of a nine-month-old girl on the Gold Coast. Picture: Campbell Gellie

He also created an "elaborate delusional system" that involved curses, black magic and voices in his head, the court heard.

The court was told the man thought he needed to "sacrifice" his daughter to save the world and that he referred to the nine-month-old infant on occasions as a "corruption", "cursed" and a "bad disease".

"I loved my daughter but I had to do it for the sake of the world," the man told one doctor.

The court heard that the man had a long history of mental illness including being the subject of involuntary treatment orders, used cannabis, and at a period was drinking four litres of wine a day.

It was very difficult for authorities to track him because he moved between states and lived a transient lifestyle, the court heard.

On the day of the infant's death, the court heard that the man tried to give her away before taking her to the banks of the Tweed and tossing her in along with a "bundle of possessions".

The bundle was later seen by several people floating out to sea, while the girl's body was found "naked face down in the sand" on a Surfers Paradise beach on the morning of November 19, it heard.

After handing down her verdict, Justice Wilson described the killing as a "terrible tragedy".

She ordered the father, who appeared by AVL and sat with his head bowed throughout the judgment, to be detained under mental health legislation until deemed fit for release.


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