Shock as child killer gets the last laugh
A CALLOUS child killer who walked out of court laughing will not serve a single extra day in jail after Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath decided not to order an appeal against his paltry sentence.
In a case that outraged Queensland, Matthew Scown, dubbed the "Grin Reaper", served less than three years jail for the horrific manslaughter of four-year-old Tyrell Cobb.
Despite Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk slamming Scown, and Ms D'Ath admitting there was growing public concern about sentences for child killers, The Courier-Mail can reveal Scown's sentence will not be appealed, on advice from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Ms D'Ath has the power to overrule the DPP's advice and push on with an appeal, but her office yesterday confirmed the decision not to lodge one.
The bombshell pushes law and order to the centre of election campaign, with One Nation leader Steve Dickson slamming the decision as "just disgraceful".
It comes despite Ms D'Ath last month announcing a review into child killer sentences, acknowledging there was growing public concern.
"The Palaszczuk Government recognises that there is a growing concern from the general public about whether sentencing for criminal offences arising from the death of a child are meeting the community's expectations," she said.
Tyrell, 4, died in agony at his mother's Gold Coast unit in May, 2009, after suffering a blow to his stomach.
The Government vowed to consider an appeal and ordered a brief from the ODPP after Scown walked from court after serving just two years and eight months of a four-year sentence for manslaughter, sparking community outrage and disbelief from the Premier herself.
The 28-day time frame to appeal the sentence expired on Wednesday night, and the Attorney-General would now need to seek special permission from the Court of Appeal for an extension.
Mr Dickson said from the campaign trail it was a missed chance "to throw this bloody bloke back before the courts".
"Maybe the Attorney-General, instead of swanning around the state on $300,000 a year, should focus on doing her job. Even during an election she needs to realise she is still a minister," he said.
"What really frustrates me is that it's like we've given up on the next generation of kids, it's just disgraceful."
The Sentencing Advisory Council has been ordered to review penalties for child killers, and is keeping an eye on the Tyrell Cobb case.
Scown pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds he failed to seek medical care for the boy and denied inflicting the fatal blow.
It is now alleged Tyrell's mother Heidi Strbak caused the fatal injuries, and Scown gave evidence at her sentencing hearing this week that she hit the child in the days before he died.
But in what is becoming an increasingly complex and messy case of he-said-she-said, it was also alleged in court that Tyrell was injured four times while alone with Scown.
Scown shocked onlookers outside court after his sentence when he walked out of court grinning. The footage prompted Premier Annastacia Palaszcuk to say he was "completely insensitive" and she was "quite sure" the Attorney-General would look at the case.
He avoided media attention while giving evidence at Strbak's hearing this week after he was allowed to use an alternative entrance. A court spokeswoman said it was "inappropriate to disclose or discuss any aspect of court security arrangements".
DAD'S EMOTIONAL TESTIMONY
DRAMATIC scenes have played out in the sentencing of Tyrell Cobb's mother after the four-year-old's father testified that she said she couldn't "handle" the boy shortly before he died.
Following a sometimes tense testimony, the little boy's father Jason Cobb slammed and damaged a glass door as he left the court.
Justice Peter Applegarth later described the incident as "unfortunate", but said he didn't intend to take the matter further.
"Obviously, emotions run high in this case, for obvious reasons," he said yesterday.
It came after Mr Cobb was grilled by defence barrister Greg McGuire about his evidence that Strbak called him and said she couldn't "handle" the child in the days preceding his death.
"Here today for the very first time you say (Strbak) gave you a reason (for calling) and that was 'I can't handle him'?" Mr McGuire pressed. "Yep," Mr Cobb said.
"I suggest to you sir you're not telling the truth," Mr McGuire said.
"You can suggest what you want," Mr Cobb replied.
On a separate occasion, the court heard Tyrell appeared to fall quiet before telling his father that Strbak's then-partner Matthew Scown "keeps hitting my head".
Former neighbour Catherine Dyball also testified yesterday and said she recalled hearing the sound of a child screaming, then suddenly stopping, on the evening of May 24, 2009, when Tyrell died.
She said she later witnessed Strbak tell a man "I leave him with you for one hour and this is what happens" after paramedics arrived in the evening. The hearing continues.