They were a happy couple on their honeymoon on the Gold Coast, celebrating their love for one another, rejoicing in their good fortune when they got a phone call that altered the course of their lives.The son of Elise and Barry Webber, Bobby was “critically ill” on the Central Coast of NSW.
He was just seven-months-old.
Imagine it? Those words are enough to strike terror in the hearts of any parent but what followed was almost too much to bear.
Bobby and his two sisters had been left in the care of Elise’s sister and mother along with Bobby’s uncle Andrew Nolan, in September, 2014.
Elise’s sister had gone to a movie with Elise and Barry's two daughters, leaving Bobby with Andrew Nolan, a man Elise had known for 12-years.
A man they all trusted.
A man who beat Bobby so senselessly his injuries were described as consistent with an 11 metre fall.
Bobby was found with multiple skull fractures, blood pooling in his eye from being shaken so violently, fractured vertebrae, bruised genitalia and bite marks on his body.
All at the hands of Andrew Nolan.The seven-month-old was left quadriplegic, brain damaged and vision-impaired. At one stage doctors advised his parents to turn off his life support but he made it through.
Yesterday, Andrew Nolan was sentenced over the "catastrophic" injuries of Bobby, now aged two. The 34-year-old was sentenced to at least eight-and-a-half years in jail.
Elise Webber cried as District Court Judge Philip Ingram detailed the impact of the attack on her tiny son.
But worse she was then subjected to a vicious verbal attack by Nolan as he was led from court.
Nine News reports that Nolan yelled at Elsie and Barry Webber “See you in 12 years” as he was led away.
Angry at the fact Nolan may be released in 2023, taking into account time already served, Elise told media that Nolan doesn’t deserve to breathe.
"He doesn't deserve any of our time, any of our tears. We cry for Bobby, we don't cry for him."Elise explained on Facebook how difficult sitting in the same room as Nolan was:
“How does a person sit in the same room as the man who tried to kill her baby?" She asked, saying “please don’t tell me what you would do because trust me we've been there with those thoughts too.”
She said that after sentencing her life will still go on but she will never heal.
“I still feel the pain from that night just as I did in September 2014.
"I feel the pain every time I look at my son, I feel the pain everytime my husband and I try to get on and be a happily married couple because the reality of it is, this is more than stressful... it is unbearable.”
“Life would not be enough. Andrew has taken our lives, our hopes and our dreams. But he will NEVER take the love we have as a family.”She is not alone in her anger. An editorial in the Nepean News, the local paper for the family, writes:
"Would you like this monster to be living among our community in just over eight years’ time? That's the reality we face when our court system persistently hands over pathetically light sentences for despicable crimes. It is time for our community to make some noise and demand tougher sentencing from our courts. Which injury inflicted on this defenseless baby was not considered a crime worthy of the maximum sentencing available?"
The judge said that Nolan’s offence was a grave breach of trust of the victim who was “especially vulnerable due to his tender age".
He said Nolan had given four versions of what happened on that night. At first telling police an intruder must have entered the little boy's home while he was sleeping on the couch but later admitted putting his foot on the child's back with force and rubbing him along the carpet.
He also admitted hitting him with an open hand.
The court heard Nolan denied hurting Bobby to police saying:
"Whoever did this, I hope you find them before I do. What has happened here is disgraceful."Elise Webber says that eight-and-a-half years jail is not enough.
"My son's got life," Ms Webber said.
"He'll always know what it's like to be confined to a wheelchair or a walking frame.
"He doesn't get to walk freely so neither should Andrew."
You can support Bobby’s journey at this fundraising page here.