Killer mum to face sentence hearing over son’s death



KILLER mum Heidi Strbak will face a contested sentence hearing later this month, to determine her part in the manslaughter of her young son Tyrell in 2009.

In March, Strbak had her sentence for the death of her four-year-old son quashed by the High Court, after an appeal.

Strbak was jailed in 2017 for nine years by Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth, after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of her son, Tyrell Cobb.

The little boy died a long and agonising death on the Gold Coast in 2009.

A post-mortem revealed Tyrell had 53 bruises and 17 abrasions from head to legs when he died.

A Supreme Court contested sentence hearing, with witnesses called to be cross-examined by Strbak's counsel, Saul Holt QC, will begin on August 31.

The hearing is expected to run for up to four days, the Supreme Court heard today.

It will determine whether Strbak is to be sentenced on the basis that she inflicted a fatal blow to Tyrell's abdomen, or because she failed to give him medical attention.

The primary witness will be Strbak's ex-partner, Matthew Scown, who was sentenced to four years' jail in 2017, after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

Scown was sentenced for manslaughter because he was "criminally negligent" in relation to Tyrell Cobb's death, because he failed to get medical treatment for the child.

His sentence was immediately suspended as he had been in custody for almost three years.

However, he breached the sentence in early 2019, by committing 28 more offences, and was sent to jail.

Tyrell's father, who lives in NSW, is also expected to appear at the hearing, possibly via video link if there are still border restrictions because of COVID-19, the court heard.

Mr Holt today told Supreme Court Justice David Boddice almost the only issue to be determined was who struck the fatal blow.

Strbak had contested the allegation that she inflicted a fatal blow to Tyrell's abdomen.

The blow led to the contents of his stomach leaking and internal bleeding, which caused his death, the Supreme Court heard.

Strbak's defence team argued there was no direct evidence against her or co-accused Matthew Scown - a former partner and the boy's stepfather - but said the circumstantial case against him was stronger.

In sentencing Strbak to nine years' jail, Justice Applegarth said there was "a compelling circumstantial case that Strbak inflicted serious injuries that weekend on her son, including the fatal injuries".

"… There is no compelling evidence that Scown inflicted the fatal injuries that weekend," he said.

In the High Court Appeal, Strbak's counsel argued the sentencing judge should not have concluded she inflicted the fatal blows to the child, which caused his death.

Mr Holt argued there was an error in Justice Applegarth's reasoning, namely that he drew an adverse inference from the fact Strbak did not give evidence in her contested sentencing hearing.

"Notwithstanding his Honour's meticulous review of a large body of evidence, the determination of at least some contested facts adversely to the appellant took into account her failure to give sworn evidence at the sentence hearing," the High Court judgment said.

"...It cannot be said that the findings respecting the appellant's callous failure to seek prompt treatment for Tyrell's arm injury and instances in which she subjected him to physical violence were not material to the ultimate conclusion that she inflicted the fatal injuries."


Originally published as Killer mum to face sentence hearing over son's agonising death

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