A SEVERELY disabled nine-year-old girl found dead in her bed in the Hunter in 2011 was killed by her father, a Newcastle District Court jury has found.
The girl's father, who cannot be identified, was found guilty of manslaughter on Wednesday after a two-week trial that focused on how the young girl sustained her fatal injuries.
The girl, who suffered from a severe form of cerebral palsy, weighed 15 kilograms at the time of her death and was unable to walk, talk or care for herself, the court heard.
She was found unresponsive in her bedroom on July 17, 2011, and a few days later a forensic pathologist determined her cause of death was blunt force trauma to the upper abdomen and lower chest.
The key issues at the trial were whether the young girl died due to deliberate blunt force trauma and whether her father was the person who inflicted those injuries.
The girl's father had always denied any involvement in her death and pleaded not guilty to manslaughter last month at the outset of the trial, with his defence team raising a number of other possibilities for how she sustained her injuries.
Public Defender Mark Austin said the jury could not discount the possibility that someone broke into the home and injured the girl, or that her mother caused the injuries.
Another possibility raised during the trial was that the injuries were caused during a failed attempt at CPR after the girl died of natural causes. But after deliberating for about two-and-a-half hours, both late Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday, the jury returned with a guilty verdict.
The jury's verdict means they were left with no doubt that it was her father who deliberately caused the injuries that killed the severely disabled girl.
And the verdict seems to indicate they agreed with the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr Brian Beer.
"Dr Beer is of the opinion that the injuries are non-accidental in nature," Crown prosecutor Stephen Wilkinson told the jury during his opening address last month.
"He states that the nature of those injuries are consistent with the application of blunt force trauma by an open hand or fist to the upper abdomen while [the girl] was lying on her back."
After a guilty verdict or conviction for an offence as serious as manslaughter, it is generally DPP policy to apply for a detention application, a move to have the offender refused bail until sentence.
But Mr Wilkinson said it wasn't a necessary step in this case because the man had been on bail for years without a breach and was suffering a series of medical conditions. Judge Peter Whitford continued the man's bail until a sentence hearing in Sydney next month.