Trigger warning: This post deals with child abuse and sexual assault.
Kyhesha-Lee’s tiny broken body told a heart-rending story: She had been dying for several days from a blow to her abdomen so severe that her bowel had been perforated. She had lacerations to her vagina, indicating that she had been “sexually interfered with” over a period of time.
Two men were arrested over Kyhesha-Lee’s death: Her father, Matthew Lee Williamson, 30, and a man who boarded at the house, Christopher Arthur Neville Kent, aged 46. Both were charged with manslaughter.*
Yesterday, Kent pleaded guilty to that charge, conceding that he was criminally negligent when it came to Kyhesha-Lee’s care. He was not the child’s father. He was not the child’s carer (though he had taken care for the child on occasion). He just happened to live in the filthy house where a grievous crime occurred.
Prosecutors said in bail hearings for the pair that Kent lived in the unit and slept in the lounge room at the time of the little girl’s death. He knew Williamson would allegedly lock the child in a bedroom for so long it caused her to urinate and defecate while trapped there. The home was “squalid” and blood stains were found around the house. Kyhesha-Lee’s blood was found on Kent’s shorts.
Yesterday, Justice Martin in the Queensland Supreme Court said, although Kent was not a parent, he had turned a blind-eye to the crimes against her. The judge said that although Kent’s duty to the child was lower, it would have been clear to him that Kyhesha-Lee was “seriously unwell”.
Kyhesha-Lee, at just three-years-old, died a “lonely and painful death” – and Kent, through his silence, was complicit in that death.
He walked free of court yesterday when his two year sentence was suspended. He has spent 19 months behind bars awaiting trial, and Justice Martin decided that was sufficient.
There is no doubt that Kyhesha-Lee was failed by Kent, a man who occasionally took care of her. A man who had her blood on his clothes and in his home. A man who likely saw, heard and smelled her suffering.