Memorial scene of where a baby washed up at Surfers Paradise Beach. Pics Adam Head
Memorial scene of where a baby washed up at Surfers Paradise Beach. Pics Adam Head

Beach baby death: ‘Why wasn’t I at home?’

A TORMENTED "aunty" is suffering panic attacks and is in counselling to help deal with the guilt of not "being there" for the nine-month-old baby whose body washed ashore on a Gold Coast beach.

The Kingscliff woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was at a concert in Brisbane when frustrated Gold Coast police drove the baby's homeless family to her Kingscliff house last month.

Police at the scene of an infant found dead on a Gold Coast beach at Surfers Paradise
Police at the scene of an infant found dead on a Gold Coast beach at Surfers Paradise

Police have alleged the girl was tossed into the Tweed River by her father only hours later.

"I had to go to a counsellor because I kept blaming myself for what happened to the little girl," the woman said yesterday.

"Why wasn't I home? I know if they came here and they wanted me to take the kids, I would have.

"In the middle of the night I have been suffering with panic attacks and anxiety.

"I suffer with it because I imagine where did it go wrong. I was there all the time and wanted to be there for them but not that night.

"I have trouble sleeping."

Sydney Hamilton park at Surfers Paradise, where a homeless couple and their children lived. picture Glenn Hampson
Sydney Hamilton park at Surfers Paradise, where a homeless couple and their children lived. picture Glenn Hampson

The "aunty" told the Bulletin she had only met the young mother once, but knew the father.

She said she had helped them get a van in October and offered them a shower and food on many occasions, but was turned down.

Police allege the family spent a few hours at the "aunty's" Kingscliff unit on November 17 before catching a bus to Tweed Heads.

That night, the father, 47, is accused of leaving the baby's mother and her other child in the car park of the Tweed Mall for 30 minutes while he dumped the baby - wearing only a nappy - in the nearby water.

Childrens' clothes torn by a council lawn mower in a park at Broadbeach, thought to belong to the homeless family.
Childrens' clothes torn by a council lawn mower in a park at Broadbeach, thought to belong to the homeless family.

After he returned, the homeless family sought shelter from bad weather for several hours before catching a bus from Wharf St, Tweed Heads, to Broadbeach, court documents allege.

Just over 24 hours later the baby's body was found washed up on Surfers Paradise beach, 30km north of Tweed Heads.

The baby's 23-year-old mother fronted Byron Bay Local Court via video link yesterday, charged with failing to provide for her child and causing danger of death.

Magistrate Jeff Linden closed the court, preventing journalists from covering the case.

Gold Coast police arrested the mother on Thursday after investigations by New South Wales detectives from Strike Force Palua, set up to probe the baby's death.

The woman, whose name has been suppressed, was extradited to NSW on Thursday afternoon.

Court officials said Mr Linden had placed a nondisclosure order on all details except that the matter had been adjourned to Tweed Heads Local Court next Tuesday.

The parents, the baby and a two-year-old son were homeless and living in parks up and down the Gold Coast.

Residents and workers in the Broadbeach area where the family slept rough phoned authorities for six months seeking help.

Police visited the family multiple times, including three times in the final day of the baby's life and drove them to Kingscliff from Broadbeach.