Hemi Burke was killed in 2015.
Hemi Burke was killed in 2015.

Second attack: Child killer bashed little girl

A CHILD killer whose sickening crime prompted recommendations to change Queensland's murder and manslaughter laws has ­admitted to assaulting another toddler.

Matthew James Ireland, 33, pleaded guilty to killing Hemi Goodwin-Burke, 4, at a home at Moranbah, southwest of Mackay, in March 2015.

The killing prompted outrage when Ireland's murder charge was downgraded to manslaughter after a plea deal.

Hemi Goodwin-Burke was bashed to death in 2015.
Hemi Goodwin-Burke was bashed to death in 2015.

 

Pictures: Supplied
Pictures: Supplied

 

Ireland eventually received less than 5½ years behind bars when sentenced in 2017 despite evidence he bashed the little boy over a two-hour period.

Matthew Ireland bashed toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke.
Matthew Ireland bashed toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke.

Now Ireland has received just six months of additional jail time for bashing another child.

Ireland pleaded guilty, via video link from prison, in the Mackay District Court yesterday to one charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.

He is eligible for parole later this year.

Hemi's mother, Kerri-Ann Goodwin, said the sentence was "another kick in the guts" after years of campaigning for tougher penalties.

"It feels like we're back at square one and nothing has been resolved," Ms Goodwin told The Courier-Mail. "No justice has been served."

In November, the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council found sentences for child murder and manslaughter did not meet the community's expectations.

The council has recommended changes to current laws, including making the killing of a child under 12 an aggravating feature of manslaughter, which would attract longer sentences.\

The maximum jail term that Ireland could have received for the reprehensible attack was seven years.

"We thought we were being realistic. We were hoping for a year or two," Hemi's father Shane Burke said.

Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the current laws for child crimes were still "too soft".

 

Matthew Ireland.
Matthew Ireland.

 

Hemi Burke.
Hemi Burke.

 

"I'm appalled this sadistic child-killer will be back on the streets by the end of this year," she said.

"Under the LNP's laws, killers like Ireland would face a mandatory minimum of 15 years in jail for what happened to Hemi."

Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group chief executive Brett Thompson said he was "not surprised" at the sentences Ireland received.

"I'm quite sure that the community feels the same way," he said. "We feel this needs to be looked at."