Parents of toddler beaten to death fight to keep their child's killer behind bars

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Community Law & Safety Political Queensland Government

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LNP Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki is horrified the man who fatally bashed toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke could soon walk free, after serving just four years in jail.

Matthew James Ireland applied for parole last Friday, after he was sentenced in 2017 to eight-and-a-half years imprisonment for Hemi's manslaughter in 2015.

Mr Janetzki said he cannot imagine the nightmare Hemi's parents are experiencing.

"Their child's life was worth more than four years imprisonment," Mr Janetzki said.

"Unfortunately, evil cowards who commit these heinous crimes against our precious children will not be punished as the community demands.

"The LNP's new child killer laws which were rejected by the Palaszczuk Labor Government earlier this month, would have seen real justice for victims and devastated families.

"The LNP's laws would have introduced a new offence of child homicide with a mandatory 15 years jail."

Ireland drunkenly beat Hemi over several hours, leaving him with more than 78 bruises and a severed brain stem when he jerked the boys' legs out from under him, causing the toddler's head to smash on the bathtub.

He had been babysitting the 18-month-old boy in March 2015 at Moranbah.

Hemi's parents Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin will make a submission to the Parole Board to try and keep Ireland in jail.

Mr Burke said they would try to make their submission to the parole board face-to-face, rather than writing a letter.

"We pushed the Labor government, spoke to the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council and their report found child manslaughter sentences were too light, so at the very least he should spend his entire sentence in jail," Mr Burke said.

"Four years is just so insulting. Hemi's life was worth more than that. He would only just be in Prep now."

Mr Burke said they would argue Ireland should not be released on parole due to reasons of public safety and inadequate rehabilitation time.

"Two of the four years he has spent in jail was on remand, so he wasn't able to access rehabilitation during that time," Mr Burke said.

"Two years is not enough rehabilitation for a man who beat a child to death."

Mr Janetzki said he was deeply disappointed by Labor's decision to vote against the LNP's Bill and vowed to take the issue to the people of Queensland at the 2020 election.

"Labor's laws merely tinker at the edges of a system that is tipped too heavily in favour of offenders," Mr Janetzki said.

"The current system will continue to fail our precious children.

"Only the LNP will make Queensland the safest place to live, work and raise a family."

 
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