Donna Deaves is led from the back of court during court proceedings in 2013. Picture: Stephen Cooper
Donna Deaves is led from the back of court during court proceedings in 2013. Picture: Stephen Cooper

Heartbreak as mum of brutally slain 2-year-old given parole

THE decision to grant parole to a criminally negligent mother who watched her daughter's slow and agonising murder has angered family of the two-year-old victim.

Tanilla Warwick-Deaves, 2, was killed from prolonged and horrific abuse inflicted by her mother's boyfriend, Warren Ross, in August, 2011.

Ross is serving a 40 year prison term for Tanilla's murder.

Tanilla's mother, Donna Deaves, pleaded guilty to manslaughter - made out by the criminal negligence of failing to seek medical help - and was sentenced to 12 years behind bars.

Her non-parole period ends on October 17 this year and the State Parole Authority has granted her release on that date.

Ballina woman Brooke Bowen, Tanilla's stepmother at the time of her death, has been "in shock" over the decision.

"It's not good enough," Ms Bowen said.

"Tanilla never got to go to preschool, she never got to go to kindergarten."

For Ms Bowen, Deaves' penalty has not eased the pain of knowing Tanilla may have been saved if she received timely medical help.

"She was the only one to save her," Ms Bowen said.

"She watched her die. She listened to her die.

"She had eight opportunities to get help. She never got that help."

The Central Coast house in which Tanilla was living, the same home where she sustained "serious and visible injuries", was visited by government officers between July 19 and 25, 2011, Justice Stephen Rothman said in his 2013 sentencing of Deaves.

Justice Rothman spoke of a "dangerous imbalance" in "the allocation of scarce enough resources" in the child safety realm but said this "does not diminish the criminal liability of those who inflict injury on children or those who fail to ensure that appropriate medical treatment is afforded children who are injured".

In sentencing Deaves, he said parents bear a "heavy and enduring responsibility" to "care for a child who is otherwise utterly defenceless".

He accepted Deaves "felt helpless, in part because of the psychiatric issues".

"Nevertheless, she had the courage to stand up to abuse in an earlier relationship and should have had the courage to take her child to the hospital," he said.

He took into account Deaves' mental ill health and other subjective factors, as well as the help she undertook to give "in the prosecution of another".

Ms Bowen said she wants Tanilla's memory to be more than a statistic.

"Just remember her for her beautiful smile," she said.

"I don't want people to forget her."