A mother who killed her four-year-old son was caught out by police after sending a string of text messages to her brother as investigators closed in on her.
Heidi Strbak, 34, was sentenced to nine years’ jail after the Brisbane Supreme Court found her guilty of her son’s manslaughter on Monday.
Her son Tyrell Cobb, four, died in 2009 after two blows to his abdomen caused internal bleeding and the leaking of his stomach contents, leading to peritonitis.
‘I’m just concerned that if they think I lied,’ Strbak wrote to her brother in a text message shown to the court, the Courier Mail reported.
Strbak pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of her four-year-old son but denied inflicting the fatal blunt force trauma. She was reportedly caught out by police after sending a string of text messages to her brother as investigators closed in on her
Tyrell was found unconscious at a Biggera Waters home on May 24, 2009 and was pronounced dead in hospital. He died after two blows to his abdomen caused internal bleeding and the leaking of his stomach contents
Details revealed in her Supreme Court bail file showed Strbak was concerned police would learn she had left Tyrell with her partner Matthew Scown on the night he died.
Strbak, who used cannabis on a ‘daily basis’, had gone to buy the drug and left Tyrell alone. She had earlier denied that was the case.
‘Im just concerned that if they think I lied … that thed (sic) wonder if id be lieing (sic) about other things, which im not,’ she texted her brother.
‘I just don’t want it to be a bad reflection of my parenting cause I no (sic) im not a bad mum and that I did everyting (sic) I could for tyrell he was the best little boy ever.’
Her brother replied with: ‘You’ve lied half your life … you know how to lie.’
Strbak pleaded guilty to her son’s manslaughter in November but denied inflicting the fatal blunt force trauma.
On Monday, Justice Peter Applegarth found Strbak was the perpetrator of Tyrell’s abuse and did not seek medical help to avoid a child protection investigation into his ‘constellation of injuries’.
Tyrell’s mother Heidi Strbak (left) was found guilty of manslaughter but will be able to apply for parole in under four years. The boy’s stepdad Matthew Scown (right), was also found guilty of manslaughter but was released after two years and eight months in custody
Justice Peter Applegarth (pictured) found Strbak was primarily to blame for Tyrell’s injuries and his lack of medical care. But child protection activists have slammed his sentencing
Gold Coast mother Heidi Strbak was sentenced to nine years’ jail for the manslaughter of her four-year-old son Tyrell Cobb on Monday
Strbak, who silently sobbed throughout the hearing, had told the court it was an ‘injustice’ she was being blamed for the fatal injuries to her son.
‘I have not caused the injuries that I am being blamed for and I believe that it is a mistake,’ she said on Monday.
Defence barrister Greg McGuire had argued Strbak had been made ‘public enemy number one’ by negative publicity.
Justice Applegarth said it was easy for a legitimately concerned public to perceive Strbak as being ‘some kind of monster’ but the tragic fact was her case was only ‘the tip of an iceberg of child abuse’.
‘It’s very easy to see her as a one in a million when we have a big problem in this community with the care of infants and young children,’ he said.
‘The tragic fact is that there are tens of thousands of young mothers who can be frustrated and distressed and verbally abuse their infants or physically abuse them.
‘Unless we as a community learn from this case, it’s inevitable there will be another case like it.’
‘Manslaughter or murder is irrelevant. It’s child killer’: Child protection activists have slammed a judge for his sentencing in the manslaughter of four-year-old Tyrell Cobb (pictured)
Tyrell was found unconscious at a Biggera Waters home on May 24, 2009 and was pronounced dead in hospital.
A pathologist found more than 70 injuries on his body and said he suffered internal bleeding and a severe abdominal injury in Strbak’s original bail hearing.
Child protection activists slammed the judge’s decision to allow Strbak to walk free from jail in just four years on parole, after she was sentenced to nine years behind bars.
Heidi Strbak was sentenced to nine years’ jail, with a non-parole period of four years, after the Brisbane Supreme Court found her guilty of manslaughter on Monday.
‘Anybody that kills a child either by virtue of their own hand or as a bystander should get life,’ children’s charity Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston told the Courier Mail.
‘Manslaughter or murder is irrelevant. It’s child killer.’
Tyrell’s stepdad Matthew Scown sparked national outrage earlier this year when he laughed outside court after being slapped with a suspended jail sentence.
While Scown did not cause the injuries, he did not contact authorities or seek medical help – even when Tyrell was vomiting green bile the night before his death.
He was handed four years jail for the manslaughter of his stepson, but was released as he had already spent two years and eight months in custody.
Criminologist Terry Goldsworthy said it was time for the justice system to ‘catch up with reality’.
‘It seems like we are more concerned about one-punch killers and domestic violence than we are about these child killers,’ he told the Courier Mail.
Family and friends of Heidi Strbak are seen arriving at the Brisbane Supreme Court on Monday