Mother left daughter unconscious for nearly two nights: court

The last words Donna Deaves heard her two-year-old daughter scream were “no no no”.

Tanilla Warrick-Deaves died in Wyong hospital two days later, on August 27, 2011, after paramedics found her injured at her Watanobbi home, on the NSW Central Coast.

In the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday Deaves, 29, pleaded not guilty to the toddler’s murder, but guilty to manslaughter on the basis of criminal negligence by failing to get medical assistance for the girl.

According to an agreed statement of facts tendered to the court, Deaves left Tanilla lying injured and unconscious for nearly two nights after her boyfriend, who Fairfax Media has chosen not to name, allegedly assaulted the girl in the shower.

The man is awaiting trial for Tanilla’s murder.

The man, who allegedly punished the toddler by hitting her with cords, straps and a wooden spoon and made her run constant laps of the lounge room, grew angry at the toddler when she wet herself on August 25, the document said.

He took her to the bathroom and put her in the shower, when Deaves said she heard what sounded like the child’s head hitting the glass screen.

“[Deaves] heard the deceased screaming ‘no, no, no’,” the statement said.

“When [Deaves] arrived, [the man] was holding the deceased by her wet hair. [He] banged the deceased’s head into the shower wall and [Deaves] noticed that the deceased’s mouth was bloody.”

The document said when Deaves told the man to stop, he slapped her across the face with the back of his hand, before allegedly banging the girl’s head on the shower screen.

“[The man] took the deceased to the toilet and held her head above the bowl. The deceased was naked, wet and shivering. [The man] held the deceased by one leg upside down and was yelling and screaming,” the statement said.

“He threatened to put the deceased’s head in the toilet and the deceased was screaming. [Deaves] was present throughout this period.”

According to the statement, when Deaves said she would call an ambulance, her boyfriend told her he would kill her, trash her house and blame her for the toddler’s injuries.

Tanilla was then put into a double stroller, which was parked in Deaves’ bedroom, where the girl stayed overnight and the next day, without regaining consciousness, the statement said.

After watching a movie the following night, Deaves woke up and noticed Tanilla was not breathing and had vomited. She called triple-0 about 4am.

Deaves did not tell police what happened to Tanilla for a month after her death, despite officers giving her opportunities, the document said.

In September, Deaves gave a comprehensive version of events and told police: “She’s better off dead then (sic) to have sustained injuries and lived like that so in the long run, I’d come to the conclusion that she wasn’t wakin’ up so I sat with her that other night and at that stage, I didn’t know what to do and I obviously thought I was going to be blamed.”

Doctors found the cause of Tanilla’s death was blunt force head trauma, which caused a subdural haemorrhage.

A pathologist found “there was clear and unequivocal medical evidence that the deceased was subjected to sustained physical violence of a non-accidental type over a period of possibly several weeks before her death”.

The pathologist said Tanilla may have survived if she had been treated promptly.

Outside court, Tanilla’s stepmother, Brooke Bowen, said her family had made repeated calls to the Department of Community Services (DoCS) concerning her welfare.

“It wasn’t just the last two weeks of her life she was being reported. She had 33 reports on her and she was only two-and-a-half. Alarm bells, hello?

“They let Tanilla down. A lot of people let Tanilla down.

“Let’s just hope after this is all over something can change in the system. It’s not going to bring Tanilla back, it’s not going to bring any other children back, but let’s hope this is an example to get them up on their toes.”

In a statement from the department, now known as the Department of Family and Community Services, a spokesman said staff were “deeply saddened by the tragic case of this little girl”.

But there would be no further comment until Deaves’ court case, and related cases, were finalised, the spokesman said.

Deaves will face a sentencing hearing in September.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Comments are closed.