A mother jailed for killing her four-year-old son was brought to justice after her boyfriend accused of the crime discovered a glaring error in the evidence against him.
Tyrell Cobb died at his Gold Coast home on the night of May 24, 2009, after two separate blows to his abdomen that caused internal bleeding and the leaking of his stomach contents.
In December, a judge found Heidi Strbak inflicted the blunt force trauma that led to his death. She was sentenced to nine years in jail.
Heidi Strbak (left) was found to have inflicted the blows that killed her four-year-old son Tyrell Cobb (right) in 2009
Tyrell had 53 bruises and 17 abrasions from head to legs when he died in May 2009
Her then-boyfriend, Matthew Scown, was originally accused of the crime after an incorrect autopsy report said the killing happened at a time when only he was with the boy.
But Mr Scown knew the evidence was wrong and paid a senior pathologist to review the autopsy.
The pathologist spotted an error and the autopsy was changed to say the boy’s injuries could have occurred earlier, when he was with his mother.
Now, the policeman in charge, Detective Sergeant Marcus Edwards, has spoken about the case to tell of his satisfaction after the error was discovered.
He told The Courier-Mail: ‘The pathologist issues an amended autopsy report that said the child’s injuries could have occurred up to 48 hours earlier… and the case gets thrown out at committal because, literally, there wasn’t a leg to stand on,’ the 21-year veteran police officer said.
‘I’m satisfied we got the right person,’ he added.
‘Without knowing anything about the case people just saw meek and mild Heidi Strbak and thought: “Well, she just looks like a mum”. People truly don’t understand how evil she is.’
The mother pleaded guilty to manslaughter last month but has denied delivering the fatal blows to her child
Tyrell had 53 bruises and 17 abrasions from head to legs when he died.
Defence barrister Greg McGuire had argued the circumstantial case against Strbak’s then-partner Matthew Scown was stronger than against the boy’s mother.
But Justice Peter Applegarth found there was a ‘no compelling evidence that Scown inflicted the fatal injuries’.
Justice Applegarth found Strbak was not only responsible for the serious damage that killed Tyrell but also for many of the non-fatal injuries inflicted on him in the days before his death.
Strbak could be seen rocking back and forth in the dock and shaking her head as Justice Applegarth handed down his findings.
Justice Applegarth found 34-year-old Strbak was responsible for the serious damage that killed Tyrell
The judge also found she was responsible for many of the non-fatal injuries inflicted on him in the days before his death
She was sentenced to nine years in jail in the Brisbane Supreme Court on December 18.
Scown, also 34, was sentenced to four years’ jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter but walked free from court in October, having already spent two years and eight months in custody.
He was sentenced on the grounds he was not responsible for Tyrell’s injuries but failed in his duty of care by not seeking medical help for the boy.
Strbak’s then-partner, Matthew Scown, also 34, was sentenced to four years’ jail after pleading guilty to manslaughter. He is pictured smiling after getting a reduced sentence for testifying against his ex