Adam Banister speaks about death of daughter Hayley Rose Banister

MEMORIES: Adam Banister with a photo of daughter Hayley Rose Banister, who died in June. Picture: Simone De Peak
MEMORIES: Adam Banister with a photo of daughter Hayley Rose Banister, who died in June. Picture: Simone De Peak

Patience.

It’s the Guns N’ Roses song Adam Banister used to sing to his baby daughter Hayley as he put her to sleep at night.

“That and Horses by Daryl Braithwaite,” he says with an expression that almost resembles a smile.

Now, patience is what he’s so desperately trying to practice as police investigate Hayley’s death, after she suffered horrific internal injuries on June 19. She was just 20 months old.

Timothy Whiteley, the former partner of Hayley’s mother Jessica, has been charged over Hayley’s death.

“I’m trying my very hardest to sit back and let the police do their job,” Banister said. 

“I try not to think about how angry it makes me.”

But before we go any further, let’s be clear. Banister has had his own run-ins with the law and is known to police. He was convicted of assaulting Jessica and served time in jail. 

He is also the subject of a temporary AVO put on by Jessica this week. The application for a final AVO has not yet been heard in court.

But it was a call from police in June that he said affected him worse than any previous dealings he had had with the law. The call to say his daughter was dead.

The shock of it was so much, he collapsed to the ground.

Why didn’t someone do something? It makes you lose all faith in authority, not that I had much. You lose all faith in every system.

Adam Banister

“I thought it was a sick joke,” he said. “It’s like having your heart ripped out and squashed.”

That pain in Adam’s heart was once a feeling of hope, of love and of wanting to be a better person for his daughter.

And he needed to be.

Growing up Banister admits he was “a very, very angry person”.

“I was an unpredictable character,” he concedes. “I had a very short fuse. You saw an Adam that wasn’t very nice.”

All of that changed, he says, when Hayley Rose Banister came along in September 2016.

“It literally changed my whole life,” he said.

“I had a sense of will to be nice. I had a sense that if I’m nice, then my daughter will grow up to be nice.

“I finally had something in my life that was really good and I could see the point to living and doing the right thing.

But less than two years after the life-changing moment of Hayley’s birth, 22-year-old Banister was preparing to go to his first funeral – that of his baby girl.

Since then Banister has felt “every emotion” – upset, angry, depressed, in denial and even guilty he wasn’t there.

Jessica and Banister parted ways when Hayley was a few months old.

“I remember just before I left she started to get her own little personality,” he recalled.

“Every time she heard me walk in the door or heard my voice she would smile.”

But despite the happiness Hayley brought Banister, the relationship between Banister and Jessica turned toxic.

Adam Banister. Picture: Simone De Peak

Adam Banister. Picture: Simone De Peak

In fact, it soured to such a degree, the two sides of the family had separate funerals for Hayley.

After he left in January 2017 and came back in February, Banister left for good in March.

“I honestly thought it was right for Hayley,” he said.

“I was leaving the relationship, I was leaving the marriage. I wasn’t leaving Hayley. I still wanted my relationship with Hayley. I was under the impression I would still have my relationship with Hayley.

“I left willingly, thinking I would still be there.”

But he never saw Hayley again.

“Literally every single night I think to myself if I hadn’t left it would be a different situation.

“If I’d put up with it, it wouldn’t be a problem.

“But at the end of the day, if I stayed, what kind of situation would that have been?

“A father that resented the mother, a mother that resented the father. What kind of situation is that for a child?”

When Banister was released from prison, he said he sought mediation to get access to Hayley, reached out to her family and tried getting a date in family court, to no avail.

But still he lived with the constant hope he would one day see his girl again.

“Every day since I left, Hayley has been on my mind,” he said. “There has not been a day go by I don’t think of Hayley.”

Now, he thinks about everything she’s going to miss. “I think about everything I’m going to miss too.”

Banister said it was a constant battle trying to deal with knowing Hayley was put in hospital with injuries in the week before her death.

He said he tried contacting the relevant authorities at the time: “Why didn’t someone do something? It makes you lose all faith in authority, not that I had much. You lose all faith in every system.”

The situation is also taking a toll on Banister’s new family – his fiancée and her two boys.

“I’m cranky, I’m annoyed at the world,” he said.

“The little things [the boys] are doing wrong that usually wouldn’t really bother me, they seem like big things.

“I’m finding myself not wanting to be around kids. I feel like I’m doing something wrong by Hayley because I sit down and play catch with the boys.

“I feel like I’m doing the wrong thing because I should be doing that with her.”

But he said his new partner had been strong and supportive through the difficult time, and that he had some great friends helping too.

Banister said he wanted to tell this story to bring the focus back on Hayley.

“People need to remember, there’s a 20-month-old baby who lost her life.”