Hemi Goodwin-Burke's killer has been refused parole.
Hemi Goodwin-Burke's killer has been refused parole. Goodwin-Burke Family

HEMI DEATH: Parole board decides on tot killer’s release

A CHILDKILLER - who violently bashed a Moranbah tot to death - has been rejected parole but the toddler's parents are now left wondering when the prisoner can apply again.

Hemi Goodwin-Burke died in March 2015 at the hands of his babysitter Matthew James Ireland, who was jailed for eight and a half years for manslaughter and eligible for parole on May 25 this year.

It was a sentence Shane Burke, Hemi's father, labelled insulting.

"Every step of the way Hemi's just been let down and I guess that's why we've fought hard," Mr Burke said.

"I know we weren't to blame. We didn't know what was going to happen to him, but we do feel that we let him down - we feel we should have been there.

"The courts let him down … the appeals court let him down."

Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin.
Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin.

Mr Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin, Hemi's mother, started a petition to keep Ireland in jail after learning he had applied for release - the campaign garnered about 46,000 signatures.

They also pushed for harsher penalties for violence against children.

"We asked to give our submissions (to keep Ireland in jail) in person to the parole board, but we got knocked back," he said.

"So we just had to wait and were ringing up every week asking if a decision had been made."

It was a 180-day anxious wait for the couple before they found out the parole bid had been denied earlier this month - but Mr Burke said it was bittersweet news.

"We're all pretty happy about it," he said.

"But now we're waiting to find out when he can apply again - that's just the big thing."

Mr Burke said the last three months had been very mentally draining for the family.

"And I guess we just get to do it all again," he said.

"When it was going through court we sort of had hope that an adequate sentence would be placed on him, but it didn't work out that way.

"With the parole, every day we were waking up thinking: is tomorrow the day, is he getting out tomorrow?"

The last four and a half years had been rough, and Mr Burke said the couple was still to properly grieve for their son.

"We haven't had a chance to … maybe if he had a proper sentence," he said.

"We didn't get that. As soon as the case was finished in the courts … he was eligible for parole.

"I guess the next time he comes up for parole we'll put the petition again and try and get 60,000 or 70,000 signatures.

"How many time are they going to knock him back?"

Mr Burke said he hoped their efforts would go towards stopping another family from going through their pain and frustration.

"We've already lost our son," he said.

"We're not just fighting for us - it's for all Queensland kids."