‘INHUMANE’: Toddler murderer’s appeal bid rejected
"BRUTAL, callous and inhumane" were the words Justice Clifton Hoeben used to describe the shocking murder of a two-year-old girl at the hands of Coffs Harbour man Thomas Lock.
Justice Hoeben this week dismissed Lock's bid to appeal his 2017 conviction.
Instead, he upheld Lock's 36-year jail sentence for fatally punching the toddler in the stomach, which caused her to bleed to death.
"The offence was committed in [the victim's] home where she was entitled to feel safe. It is necessarily deserving of severe punishment."
Lock, then aged 27, stood trial at the Supreme Court of Coffs Harbour where it was heard he was living with the toddler and her mother at a Park Beach unit at the time of the girl's death.
On April 20, 2014, the victim's mother left the home to buy fast food for dinner, leaving the toddler in Lock's care.
In what was estimated by detectives to be less than a half an hour trip based on security footage, the mother returned home to find her daughter vomiting and "limp."
The girl was rushed to the ED at Coffs Harbour Health Campus. After a series of medical procedures, she was pronounced dead in the early hours of April 21.
"On the way to the hospital she managed to tell me that she loved me and that was about it," the victim's mother said when giving evidence.
An autopsy concluded that the toddler had died due to significant internal bleeding from a tear, caused by blunt force trauma to her stomach.
Lock immediately denied assaulting the girl and pleaded not guilty to her murder.
Lock's guilt was however determined by the jury in light of evidence from the weeks leading up to the toddler's death, which included an incident where the toddler sustained burns to her feet.
The toddler's mother was changing her nappy when she noticed the marks - injuries which she said left her "struggling" and "tiptoeing" on the Easter weekend.
Lock told the mother he had attempted to bathe the toddler but the water was too hot.
In another incident, the toddler's grandmother told the court that the girl said Lock had punched her.
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Lock had attempted to appeal his conviction and sentence on numerous grounds, including that the trial judge erred in wrongfully admitting evidence from the weeks preceding the toddler's death.
It was also argued that the sentence was excessive.
However in his judgment, Justice Hoeben was satisfied that adequate rulings had been made and stated the evidence had been of "considerable importance" in the trial.
Lock will not be eligible for parole until at least 2041.