THE rape and murder of a two-year-old girl has cast a shadow over Coffs Harbour, where a man remains behind bars, accused of the unthinkable.
Police believe the toddler's mother was away from the family home for just 20 minutes when her 23-year-old partner Thomas Lock attacked her daughter on Easter Sunday.
In a sickening string of events, Lock allegedly helped the mother and another family member transport the girl's broken body to hospital, claiming to have no knowledge of what had caused the injuries to her tiny organs.
At first, doctors looked at a possible mystery illness but after the toddler tragically died the following day, an autopsy allegedly uncovered something far more sinister.
Follow-up inquiries led police back to the home where Lock was arrested on Thursday and charged with murder and aggravated sexual assault.
A search of the home also allegedly uncovered methamphetamines.
Coffs/Clarence Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Darren Jameson said while the death of any young child was tragic, the details of the investigation had taken their toll on police and the wider community.
He described the "significant" internal injuries as being consistent with repeated blows to the stomach.
He also stressed the girl's mother had not been home at the time and no further charges would be laid.
Lock did not appear in the Coffs Harbour Local Court where bail was formally refused on Friday morning.
Limited details were read out but APN Newsdesk understands the accused and the toddler's mother had only been in a relationship for a few months and were living at Park Beach.
It is also understood both had grown up in the Coffs Harbour area.
Visiting magistrate Robert Rabbidge this morning ruled it in the community's interest to identify the alleged child killer.
He will return to court on July 22.