CHANGE CRITICAL: Mackay couple Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin say the justice system continues to let down children like their son Hemi Goodwin-Burke (above right), who was killed by Matthew James Ireland in 2015.
CHANGE CRITICAL: Mackay couple Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin say the justice system continues to let down children like their son Hemi Goodwin-Burke (above right), who was killed by Matthew James Ireland in 2015. Tony Martin

Parents of slain toddler question Attorney-General

EXCLUSIVE: The parents of slain toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke have welcomed a move by the Attorney-General to appeal the sentence handed down to the killer of Brisbane toddler Mason Jet Lee but questioned why it couldn't have been done sooner.

Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath confirmed on Thursday that she would appeal the nine-year prison sentence handed to William O'Sullivan for the manslaughter of 22-month-old Mason Lee.

O'Sullivan will be eligible for parole in four years, having already served two. O'Sullivan admitted in court to beating Mason Lee so severely that his intestines ruptured.

"It's good that she's finally doing it, but it's just a shame that it couldn't have been done sooner," Hemi's father Shane Burke said.

"Hemi has been let down and all these other kids ... let's hope that they can make a change now."

Mr Burke and his partner Kerri-Ann Goodwin have been fiercely campaigning for harsher sentences for child killers.

 

Hemi Goodwin-Burke.
Hemi Goodwin-Burke. Goodwin-Burke Family

Hemi was 18-months old when he was bashed to death by his babysitter Matthew James Ireland, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.

Ireland will be eligible for parole in March, 2019. The Goodwin-Burke's have always said Ireland's sentence was inadequate.

"It's bittersweet," Mr Burke said of the O'Sullivan appeal.

"The public outcry about all these cases has been the same ... but nothing has been done about it.

"Let's hope they can make a change with this one, get it right, increase the sentence to be more in line with public expectation and set a new precedent for the next case."

Mr Burke said there are a list of Queensland children whose killers have been handed sentences of nine years imprisonment or less with no move by the Attorney-General to appeal the sentences.

He also questioned why Ms D'Ath had chosen to take action now, when a report into the sentencing of child killers is due to be delivered to her by Queensland Sentencing and Advisory Council at the end of October.

A spokesperson for Ms D'Ath said every case is different, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions bases its advice on the specific instances of the individual case. The ODPP is the department that reviews sentences and advices the Attorney-General if there are legal grounds for an appeal.

Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the community "rightly expects that offenders who kill or seriously injure children should face the full force of the law."

"As a mum, my heart goes out to every parent who has had a child so cruelly taken from them," she said.



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