Warren Ross boards a police car at the King Street Court in Sydney in May 2014.
Warren Ross boards a police car at the King Street Court in Sydney in May 2014. DANIEL MUNOZ

Child killer claims constant fear of violence in jail

HE TORTURED and bashed a two-year-old girl so severely her brain was bleeding then left her to die slowly in a pram over two days, having boasted about his ability to "make her scream" in fear without even touching her.

Now convicted toddler murderer Warren Ross wants a more lenient prison sentence because there is a "price on his head" behind bars.

The Ballina man was sentenced to a maximum of 40 years jail in 2013 for murdering his girlfriend's daughter

Tanilla Warrick-Deaves in 2011.

A hearing before the Court of Criminal Appeal was told he now lived in a "hyper-vigilant" state of fear in jail.

Defence barrister Chris Bruce argued the sentencing judge, Stephen Rothman, had not given enough weight to the tough conditions Ross faced in prison, including the constant threat of violence and intimidation from fellow inmates.

The court heard Ross had been assaulted four times since he was locked up.

"It is highly unlikely that he will get parole," Mr Bruce said.

"That means there will be 40 years of this ongoing intimidation and violence - this continued hyper-vigilance, as I put it.

"The reality is; this will be ongoing. This won't cease.

"In fact, if he does stay in jail he will be 68 when this might cease."

Ross whipped Tanilla with a belt, made her run laps around the home until she collapsed and bashed her head against a shower wall.

He dropped her on the ground and kicked her across the floor so hard her head hit a linen cupboard and she bounced back, then he kicked her again.

It was all in the name of "toilet training".

Crown prosecutor Sally Dowling said the young girl's injuries were so severe it was "obvious" she needed medical care.

But Ross left Tanilla in a pram in his bedroom for 36 hours, her brain bleeding until she finally died.

"Not only did he cause the injuries that caused her death, he then let her die," Ms Dowling said.

"The mitigatory effects of a lack of premeditation diminish over time, and they diminish very greatly the closer she got to death over the Friday and Friday night."

Justice Cliff Hoeben said Ross's boast he could make Tanilla scream without touching her - just by threatening her with a belt - was "one of the most horrible instances" he had read in his career.

"It wouldn't be too much of an exaggeration to say that the elements of the mistreatment, when you're looking at the background of the final killing, verged on torture of this child," he said.

Ms Dowling argued "torture" was the only correct word to describe the treatment.

She urged the judges to look at the autopsy photos to gain a true idea of how battered the girl's young body was.

"This is one of the most tragic cases this court will have dealt with," Ms Dowling said.

"That child knew exactly what was coming and he demonstrated that by how he could make her scream."

Justice Peter Hall said expert reports suggested there were eight significant assaults inflicted on the child before she finally died from bleeding on the brain.

"They were all involving a high level of brutality," he said.

Tanilla's stepmother Brooke Bowen, the former partner of the girl's father Adrian Warrick, said she believed the death penalty should be reinstated for child murderers.

"Why should anybody worry about what happens to him in jail?" she asked via phone from Ballina.

"Did he expect to go to jail and have everyone high-five him? He's a child murderer.

"He's complaining that he's going to be 68 when he gets out.

"Well, Tanilla didn't even live to see three.

"I'll be there with my walking stick waiting for him when he gets out."

Tanilla's mother Donna Deaves is serving a minimum nine-year sentence for manslaughter.

The court has reserved its decision until a later date.

A coronial review into Tanilla's death is due to begin on August 30. -ARM NEWSDESK