Qld mum back in court over toddler’s death

A mother fighting to have her sentence reduced for killing her four-year-old son has broken down as pictures of his tiny battered body were shown to a Brisbane court.

Heidi Strbak was sentenced to nine years’ jail in 2017 after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of her four-year-old son Tyrell Cobb.

In March, Strbak’s sentence was set aside after a successful High Court appeal.


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She faces a re-sentencing hearing before Justice David Boddice in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Tyrell died on the Gold Coast in May 2009 after Strbak and her then de facto Matthew Scown failed to seek timely medical treatment for the sick boy.

He had been vomiting bile for two days following a blow to his abdomen, which tore open his small intestine.

By the time paramedics were called, Tyrell was unresponsive and never regained consciousness.

Strbak sobbed as confronting images of her son’s tiny body covered by some 70 bruises and abrasions, and a cigarette lighter burn on his ankle, were shown to the court on Tuesday.

Scown was also convicted of Tyrell’s manslaughter and received a four-year sentence after the court found while he also failed to seek medical help, he was not responsible for the injuries.

He previously testified to seeing Strbak abuse the boy, particularly when she was unable to obtain marijuana.

Scown is again expected to testify to allege his former partner delivered the fatal blows.

In opening submissions on Tuesday, the Crown said there were only three people who had the opportunity to hurt Tyrell – Strbak, Scown and the boy’s uncle who has been cleared.

It is expected to call a number of witnesses who will give evidence of seeing Strbak previously physically and verbally abusing Tyrell.

“It is the Crown’s contention that it was Ms Strbak who applied the blunt force trauma to her son causing abdominal injuries resulting in his death,” Philip McCarthy QC told the court.

Defence barrister Saul Holt said there was no dispute that the injuries to Tyrell were unlawful and intentional, but Strbak was not responsible.

“The evidence will demonstrate that there was no evidence of any unexplained injuries to Tyrell Cobb prior to the bruises that began to emerge over that weekend,” Mr Holt said.

“Bad things were happening to Tyrell Cobb, in the vast majority at least, they occurred in the period of time that Mr Scown moved in. That was the significant change that had occurred in their lives at that point.

“The evidence is that prior to the time that Mr Scown had come to live in the unit, there were in fact no unexplained injuries prior to that time at all.”

The hearing is expected to last at least four days.

© AAP 2020