Homicide probe over schoolgirl’s death

A Queensland mum says she’s “going into battle” after police revealed the sudden death of her 11-year-old daughter almost two years ago is a homicide investigation.

It was August 1, 2019, when a concerned neighbour found Sophie Smith dead in the master bedroom of her family’s home at Mount Cotton.

Police say she had no obvious injuries and no underlying health problems, although had been suffering from a cold. Her mother was also found inside the home with what police at the time suggested were self-inflicted injuries.


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Investigators initially said Sophie’s death was not suspicious, but also said investigations were ongoing.

On Monday, detectives revealed they’ve long been treating the case as a possible crime, citing “inconsistencies” in autopsy results and testimonies.

They have appealed for public help to piece together what happened in the five days before Sophie’s body was found.

The last proof of life detectives have is a photo of the 11-year-old, taken by her mother, Nicole, and shared with family members on the night of Saturday, July 27, 2019.

Police say their evidence is that Nicole was the only person “present in the house and interacting with Sophie” between then and when she was found dead.

The neighbour who discovered the child’s body had gone to the home at the urging of Sophie’s father, Edward, a fly-in, fly-out worker who was away and had been unable to contact his wife or daughter.

Detective Inspector Stephen Hollands on Monday said both parents had been interviewed several times during the course of the investigation, including very recently.

He said the mother had told investigators that she was at home for the “majority” of the five-day period, but had left the house for short periods of time.

“At some point in time, yes, she did know that Sophie was deceased,” Mr Hollands said, adding that the mother did not call police.

Sophie’s cause of death had still not been determined, but there was interest in the results of a toxicology report, Insp Hollands said.

“As far as we were aware, she was a normal, healthy 11-year-old girl. Shortly before her death … she may have had some sort of a cold, but nothing outside that.”

Insp Hollands said Sophie had attended school “sporadically”, particularly in the period leading up to her death.

“The investigation has been progressing slowly and steadily but we are at that time … where it’s important that we appeal to the community and ask if there’s anything they could assist us with,” he told reporters.

In a video on Facebook, posted just before Monday’s police press conference, Sophie’s mother said her family was still waiting for closure and a sense of justice almost two years down the track.

She said they had not even been provided with a copy of the coroner’s report.

“Unfortunately we had to lawyer up … even got a barrister … We are ready to go to battle, and battle we will, because we want justice for us, for Sophie,” she said.

“Sometimes the legal system sucks. Everybody knows that sometimes innocent people get convicted. It’s not going to happen to us.”

AAP has sought direct comment from the mother.

© AAP 2021