FOR three days he tortured his 12-year-old step-daughter; tying her to a bed, repeatedly beating her with pieces of wood and then rubbing salt and vinegar into her wounds.
And eventually, after suffering more injuries than was possible to count, the young girl “gave up” and died.
The man responsible, now 33, who cannot be named because it would identify the young girl, was on Monday spared a life sentence in Newcastle Supreme Court, in part because of a letter he wrote to his solicitor where he described himself as “all things evil”.
Instead, the man was jailed for a maximum of 37-and-a-half years, with a non-parole period of 28 years.
He will be eligible for parole in 2043, at the age of 59, when he will be deported to his homeland in Africa.
These were heinous acts, involving “gratuitous cruelty to a young, helpless and defeated victim”, Justice Peter Hamill said on Monday.
But they were far from isolated incidents.
“The history of violence places the murder in its true context and establishes that the events of September 20 to 22, 2015, were not isolated but formed part of a consistent pattern of cruel and barbaric abuse of a helpless child,” Justice Hamill said.
The young girl’s family, still coming to terms with losing a child at the hands of a man they had welcomed into their lives, have struggled most with one simple question.
The girl’s uncle stood in Newcastle Supreme Court last week, stared into her killer’s eyes and asked why.
“I hope you reach a stage in your life when you’re able to look at yourself in the mirror,” the girl’s uncle said.
“To be man enough to give us an honest answer as to why. “Why, why, why,” the man repeated, reading a powerful and heartbreaking victim impact statement penned by the girl’s grandmother. Crown prosecutor Lee Carr had submitted that a life sentence was the only appropriate punishment for the man, who he characterised as a “sadist”.
But Justice Hamill determined that a lengthy jail term, and not a life sentence, was sufficient due to a number of factors, including a “rather extraordinary” letter written by the man to his solicitor.
In it the man describes his actions as a “monstrosity” and tells his solicitor to stop trying to mitigate his actions.
It also included a Biblical passage that, once translated, read: “Cursed be the day I was born. May the day my mother bore me not be blessed.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.