Toddler burnt with lighter and hit every day in lead-up to her death, court told

The Age

By Georgina Mitchell

30 January 2019 

A man accused of murdering a toddler following weeks of beatings in Sydney's west has claimed the girl's mother was responsible for the attacks, as his trial opened in the NSW Supreme Court.

The two-year-old girl, who cannot be named, died on December 20, 2016, after she wasrushed to hospital with brain damage and her life support was switched off.

The accused man, Mohammed Khazma, 25, had been dating the girl's mother for several weeks before the alleged attacks began, a jury was told on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Philip Hogan said that, in the week leading up to the girl's death, she washit every day, became unconscious four times including when she died, and appeared to be "groggy" and "drowsy".

Mr Khazma is accused of knocking the girl unconscious by grabbing her by the hair and slamming her head into a wall, and of using the hot metal of a cigarette lighter to inflict multiple burns on her skin, some of which became infected.

The six-week trial is expected to hear from the girl's mother that Mr Khazma slapped and choked the girl, made her stand in a corner until her legs turned purple, whipped her with the cord from a phone charger, punched her and held her upside down over a bin.

Mr Khazma allegedly grabbed the girl by the shoulders and "aggressively" shook her on the afternoon of December 19, then stopped her mother from calling triple zero as the toddler gasped for air.

The girl's mother put her daughter in a car about 3pm and drove her to the home of Mr Khazma's relatives, who called emergency services. The girl died in hospital the next day.

A post-mortem examination found the cause of death to be blunt force head injuries and spinal injuries.  

The examination also noted about 45 bruises on the child's body which appeared to be inflicted over a period of time, old and new burn injuries which resembled the top of a cigarette lighter, bleeding on the brain, and "28 probable human bite marks".

Mr Hogan said examination of the marks indicates they were inflicted by adult teeth.

Mr Khazma has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder and two counts of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Mr Hogan said the girl's death could have been a result of "intense shaking" on December 19 or the earlier incidents where she was beaten unconscious.

"It may not be possible to tell with certainty which one injury caused [the girl's] death," Mr Hogan said. "It may have been one injury, or it may have been a combination."

Mr Khazma's barrister Luke Brasch told the jury that the girl's mother was the person who inflicted the girl's injuries.

"This is, on any view, a tragic case. It involves the death of a young two-year-old girl," Mr Brasch said. "I wish to make it clear on behalf of the accused, Mohammed Khazma, that he denies these allegations."

Mr Brasch said the girl's mother "falsely accused" his client to "cover up" her own conduct. "Her account is very much in dispute in this trial," Mr Brasch said.

The trial continues before Justice Elizabeth Fullerton.


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