Warning: This post deals with themes of child abuse and may be distressing for some readers.
The last words Donna Deaves heard her two-year old daughter screaming were ‘no, no, no.’
Donna Deaves alleges that she saw her naked wet, shivering daughter, Tanilla Warrick-Deaves, being held upside over the toilet in her home on the NSW Central Coast by her boyfriend in August 2011.
According to an agreed statement of facts tendered to the Supreme Court she says that her boyfriend then smashed her daughter’s head into the shower screen, kicked her across the room and slapped Deaves across the face.
Deaves placed her unconscious daughter in her pram and left her for two days and two nights, making ”rattly” and ”gurgling” sounds.
One night, whilst watching a movie, she noticed her daughter had vomited. She finally called triple-0. But it was too late.
Doctors found the cause of Tanilla’s death was blunt force head trauma, which caused a subdural haemorrhage.
The pathologist said Tanilla may have survived if she had been treated promptly.
Donna Deaves was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
The sentencing judge said that whilst he accepted that Deaves felt ‘‘helpless’’ she ”should have had the courage to take her child to hospital”.
He accepted that Deaves never abused the child and had herself been abused by previous partners, but said this did not abdicate a mother from her responsibility to protect her child.
That partner wasn’t named at the time Deaves was sentenced.
But we now know he is Warren Ross.
And yesterday, in the Supreme Court in Sydney Donna Deaves gave harrowing evidence against him.
Ross has pleaded not guilty to murdering Tanilla Warrick-Deaves.
The Crown alleges Ross abused two-year old Tanilla in the weeks before her death as he tried to toilet train her. He forced her to run laps, whipped her with various implements and hit her.
Deaves said Ross would punish Tanilla for “anything”, using electric cords, shoes, a belt and his hand.
In court yesterday Deaves testified that she tried to stop it.
At one point, said she stepped in front of her two-year old daughter, Tanilla and managed to stop the beating but it started back up again.
Ross has previously claimed in court that these bruises found on the toddler’s body were from falls and from tripping over.
The court heard that he told police in 2011 the toddler had fallen off a trampoline, probably fallen off a cupboard and onto a bed, and that the large bruise on her head was the result of tripping on a protruding floorboard in her Central Coast home.
The Crown presents a different story.
Doona Deaves is finally speaking out against her daughter’s abuser as a prosecution witness. Her reward – a 33% reduced sentence for giving evidence against her former partner.
Perhaps, we can hope and speculate, she’s also attempting in some way to make amends for allowing her daughter to suffer such abuse.
The trial continues.