Warning: Distressing content
Queensland parents say they failed their 18-month-old son, who was killed by their babysitter while they were out.
"We failed. As much as people say we suffered, we [also] failed. I was not there to protect Hemi," mother, Kerri-Ann Goodwin said in court this week.
Kerri-Ann and her partner Shane Burke had left their toddler, Hemi Goodwin-Burke, in the care of an old friend, Matthew James Ireland, while they went to Brisbane for a medical appointment.
Over the course of two hours, Ireland drunkenly beat Hemi while babysitting him at the family home in Queensland.
In court, the devastated parents heard the account of what happened to their child.
"From [what Ireland told police] he sat outside drinking and every time he walked back inside he applied another form of violence," they said, as reported by News.com.au.
"Whether it was kicking him like a football, picking him up by his throat, squeezing him, pushing him down in his cot. Every time [he went inside] he did more."
The little boy’s body was covered in 78 bruises from being kicked and punched repeatedly.
Ireland had originally lied to investigators that Hemi had suffered a seizure, and tried to blame the injuries on the boy’s three-year-old sister.
Later, he admitted to being drunk.
"Just to think of the pain he was in. We weren’t there to protect him," Ms Goodwin said. "Think how scared he would have been."
Ms Goodwin says she blames herself for allowing "the predator" into their homes that should have been "Hemi’s safe haven."
"I trusted him, I thought he was a friend," she said in her statement to the court.
The night Hemi was injured they spoke to Ireland at about 6.30pm. "He said everything was fine. If it was that he was struggling and he needed help, there was opportunity to say that."
Hemi's parents are appalled that the charges against Ireland were changed from murder to manslaughter and that he was only jailed for eight-and-a-half years with a parole eligibility date of as easy as March 2019. They have started a petition to change the way the prosecution system handles children's deaths.
This article first published on Marie Claire.