Man charged at Tanilba Bay over murder of 20-month-old Tarro girl who suffered head, torso and internal injuries

UPDATED REPORT:

A MAN accused of murdering a 20-month-old girl at Tarro has been refused bail in Newcastle Local Court.

Timothy Andrew Whiteley, 26, appeared in court on Friday via audio visual link from the cells at Raymond Terrace police station.

He did not enter a plea to a charge of murder or apply for bail and it was refused for Mr Whiteley to appear in Maitland Local Court on August 8.

“He will be organising his legal representative in the meantime,” his solicitor said. 

“He will be defending the matter.”

Mr Whiteley, with a shaved head and wearing a black long-sleeved shirt, thanked the registrar as he left the room. 

EARLIER REPORT:

A man has been charged over the murder of a 20-month-old girl at Tarro, who suffered “some of the worst injuries” seen in 38 years by a homicide squad detective.

The toddler was rushed to John Hunter Hospital on June 19 after suffering a cardiac arrest, but was unable to be revived.

Police said the girl suffered “significant injuries” including facial, head, and torso bruising, abrasions, and lacerations, broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and internal bleeding.

But police will allege in court the incident was not isolated or accidental.

Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Walpole of the Homicide Squad said police were looking at numerous injuries the toddler suffered over a period of time.

He told Fairfax Media the young girl had presented to hospital with wounds prior to her death. 

But the girl was returned to her family home after she was released. Within weeks of that hospitalisation, she was killed. 

The 26-year-old man accused of the girl’s murder was in a de-facto relationship with her mother and had been living with them, but was not her biological father.

He was arrested on Thursday morning at the Tanilba Bay home of another woman he had recently started a relationship with.

It comes after Homicide Squad detectives and Port Stephens-Hunter police established Strike Force Nerium after the girl’s death with investigations ongoing since.

Chief Inspector Walpole said while “no one was going home” until police had a result, it was a tough case for all of those involved.

“Any murder has its challenges and has its emotional ride, but when you’re dealing with the murder of a 20-month-old baby it’s even more so,” he said.

Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Walpole of the Homicide Squad

Detective Chief Inspector Wayne Walpole of the Homicide Squad

“Especially when a lot of the detectives have got young families themselves.”

While he commended the work the detectives had completed so far, Chief Inspector Walpole said investigations into the matter were still ongoing.

However he would not be drawn on whether further arrests were pending.

“We still believe there are people that can assist with this investigation,” he said. 

“We believe that there are people who may have information in relation to the injuries the young baby suffered and we’d urge them to come forward.”

Anyone who has information regarding the incident should report it to Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.