Hemi’s legacy must never be forgotten

IN March 2015, baby Hemi Goodwin-Burke suffered a cruel and brutal death, having the life in his 18-month-old body snuffed out after he was subjected to an astonishing 75 bruises to his fragile frame, which itself was still taking shape.

Little Hemi had a rib snapped, his organs ruptured and the stem to his brain snapped. It is impossible to imagine a more gruesome death which occurred in the relatively remote mining town of Moranbah.

Hemi's killer was a 31-year-old, Matthew Ireland, who was babysitting the toddler. No-one disputed the facts of Hemi's illegal killing but Ireland exploited gaping holes in the justice system to avoid just retribution.

After being charged with torture and grievous bodily harm, Ireland had the charges he faced upgraded to a count of murder.

Not wanting to face the long jail time his grisly crime should attract, Ireland pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter, knowing that he could use this kind of legal manoeuvre to minimise any sentence he might incur.


Hemi Goodwin-Burke was bashed to death by Matthew James Ireland he court heard Ireland drunkenly beat Hemi over a two-hour period while babysitting him in March 2015.
Hemi Goodwin-Burke was bashed to death by Matthew James Ireland he court heard Ireland drunkenly beat Hemi over a two-hour period while babysitting him in March 2015.


Ireland was right and after being sentenced early this year, Hemi's cruel and brutal killer may be about to be given a totally undeserved "get out of jail almost free" card.

When he was sentenced for killing Hemi two years ago, Ireland was sent to jail for just eight and a half years, a manifestly inadequate punishment which sparked immediate calls for changes and reform to the laws governing assault and worse of young, defenceless children.

Even when Ireland was convicted for a separate crime of bashing another child, his time in jail was increased by just six more months for a single charge of assault occasioning bodily harm.

Now Ireland looks set to walk free, getting parole after "time served" and remaining behind bars for a part of the total sentence.

Parents of slain toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke, Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin.
Parents of slain toddler Hemi Goodwin-Burke, Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin.

His parent, quite rightly, oppose the parole application, and have gatherer the signatures of more than 25,000 people who feel the same.

We wish them well.

Most Queenslanders will join Hemi's parents and shake their heads, wondering in what universe can someone "rehabilitate" themselves after having beaten and bashed a child to death over a number of hours.

While there would be no justice in Ireland walking free, public outrage over Ireland's sentence, and other similar incidents, saw new laws introduced earlier this year.

These laws concern the unlawful killing of someone because of an act of omission which shows a reckless indifference to human life.

This is something The Courier-Mail campaigned for and we will not let up.

These laws should be enough to stop someone in the future from getting around statutes and be allowed to hide behind a charge of manslaughter when there was a clear act of harm which resulted in death.

Higher sentences for manslaughter and child negligence are good to have on the books but proposals for even tougher laws, such as mandatory sentences as suggested by the LNP, were not accepted.

All reforms to criminal law are by nature incremental, but we can be satisfied that anyone who now or in the future commits the kind of crimes Ireland did when he was charged with the care of young Hemi they will not be able to manipulate the system to avoid proper punishment.


CRICKET fans can be an unforgiving bunch, often dishing it out with passionate force, sometimes with reason, often without. The reception afforded two Australian players - the once universally liked ex-captain Steve Smith and his deputy Dave Warner - during the early World Cup matches in England have been on the other side of acceptable.

When great rivals Australia and India met at the Oval over the weekend, the crowd - disproportionately in favour of the subcontinental team - looked like turning in another sour greeting for the Australian batsmen.

Indian captain Virat Kohli - himself on the receiving end of some over-the-top crowd reaction during visits to Australia - might have looked away and let his team's fans vent with ill-mannered catcalls and boos, especially when Smith was placed near the boundary.

Instead, Kohli left his crease and went to the edge of the field and clapped his hands together, urging the Indian fans to applaud, instead of boo.

This was a display of genuine sportsmanship, which Smith appreciated and which we do not see often enough. When Kohli returns to Australia at a future time, fans here should give him back some respect.

Responsibility for election comment is taken by Sam Weir, corner of Mayne Rd & Campbell St, Bowen Hills, Qld 4006. Printed and published by NEWSQUEENSLAND (ACN 009 661 778). Contact details are available at www.couriermail.com.au/help/contact-us