A mother who killed her eight-week-old twin daughter and left the other with permanent brain damage will not be stripped of her working with children permit.
Tina Terlato pleaded guilty to infanticide after baby Amanda died with a fractured skull and brain bleeds at their Melbourne home in April 2012, while the youngster’s sister Alicia was injured so badly she has lifelong disabilities.
In May it was revealed Terlato, a diehard Essendon Football Club supporter, obtained a permit to make AFL banners alongside kids.
Despite calls by family members and the state opposition to review the permit, Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said she couldn’t reverse the decision unless Terlato committed another crime.
Tina Terlato (pictured) was charged with murder, but instead pleaded guilty to one count of infanticide and was sentenced to a 12-month community corrections order
When Alicia Terlato and her twin sister Amanda (pictured) were just eight weeks old when they were violently attacked by their mother. Amanda’s injuries proved fatal, while Alicia will suffer from disabilities for life
‘As Attorney-General, I am unable to intervene in individual assessments and cannot seek an appeal with respect to decision made,’ she wrote in a letter to Terlato’s heartbroken family, according to the Herald Sun.
‘Internal reassessments of a decision to give a person a working with children check can only be conducted if a relevant change in circumstances occurs with respect to the WWCC card holder,’ she said.
Ms Symes acknowledged the family’s suffering and said the government reviewed the working with children scheme regularly to ensure the rules were as tight as possible.
Shadow Attorney-General Edward O’Donohue, who appealed to Ms Symes to overturn the decision in May, deemed her response ‘cold and callous’.
Tina Terlato (centre) has been granted a working with children permit to work for Essendon
He said it showed a lack of empathy and compassion for the family who continue to grieve for Amanda, and the loss of the person Alicia would have become if she wasn’t brain damaged.
The twins’ aunt and uncle Michelle and Joe said they were upset by the attorney-general’s response.
‘This just shows there are clear loopholes in the system and it’s so frustrating that she can still be granted a working with children check, despite what’s happened,’ they said.
In May, the girls’ father Paul Terlato said: ‘Every time I see her face when she poses up with AFL players or when I hear about her attending games – it just brings back bad memories.’
Alicia’s father Paul (pictured with Alicia and his other son, Luke) was told his surviving daughter would likely be confined to a wheelchair for life, but she has ‘defied the odds’
‘I’m shocked, I’m disgusted, I’m angry. Essendon Football Club and the AFL need to stop her membership and refuse her entry anywhere in Australia.’
The new job has her helping to design and construct the banner players run through before games, a job that often includes child volunteers.
It’s not known how someone with the convictions like Terlato was able to obtain a working with children permit, which are only handed to people with no prior convictions.
In a letter sent by Essendon to its members over the hiring of Terlato the club said ‘criminal convictions don’t prohibit people from becoming members of the club’.
‘Passing a police, background check is not a requirement. All members of the Bomber Squad are required to pass a working with children check in order to participate in activities like banner making,’ the letter obtained by the Herald Sun says.
‘If a member’s status ever changes, then we would act accordingly.’
The vicious assault left Alicia (pictured) with serious injuries and means she will suffer disabilities for life and make almost weekly trips to hospital
Paul is now a single father-of-two and previously said that nine-year-old Alicia’s disability meant he couldn’t enjoy such luxuries.
‘I’m not one of those people who always handballs kids over to grandparents, or to a carer to have a night out or go to the pub – I can’t do that,’ he said.
‘I can’t leave them home and then me enjoy the holiday. We’re a family, we’ve got to do things as a family.’
The youngster has cerebral palsy as a result of the injuries inflicted by her mother, which means she will struggle walking and talking for the rest of her life.
After Terlato assaulted the girls in 2012, she placed them back in their cots until Paul found them and raised the alarm.
They were both rushed to hospital but Amanda died during surgery, while Alicia suffered a fractured skull, arm, legs and collarbone
Pictured: Alicia Terlato with her father Paul and older brother Luke
In his letter to federal Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes, Mr O’Donohue said national leaders had an ‘obligation to all Victorians to ensure the working with children check regime is working properly’.
Shadow police Minister David Southwick said the justice system has ‘catastrophically failed’ when a convicted child killer is allowed to work with kids.
The twins’ aunt Michelle Terlato has called for the infanticide law to be scrapped in Victoria, and with states including Western Australia doing so in recent years, it is a push that received support from victims’ advocates.
Introduced in England in the 1920s, infanticide intended to ensure women who killed their children would not be charged with murder, and therefore sentenced to death.
Over the years it was subsequently introduced in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania, and Western Australia.
After a review by its Law Review Commission, Western Australia repealed it in 2008.
While the age limit for a child victim in Victoria is two years, elsewhere it stands at 12 months.
Infanticide is an applicable charge for mothers found to be of a ‘disturbed’ mind and as such was used in the case of Tina Terlato, due to claims of post-natal depression.
While she understands the intentions of such a law, her former sister-in-law Michelle Terlato believes it has been rendered ‘archaic’ over time and devalues the lives of young children.
THE TRAGIC ABUSE SUFFERED BY AMANDA AND ALICIA TERLATO AT THE HANDS OF THEIR MOTHER:
– On the evening of April 25, 2012, Tina Terlato brutally assaulted her eight-week-old twin daughters Amanda and Alicia inside their Melbourne home.
– Then she lay them gently back in their cots.
– It was not until a few hours later when their father Paul Terlato went to check on them that the alarm was raised.
– They were both rushed to hospital but Amanda died during surgery, while Alicia still suffers severe disabilities including cerebral palsy because of the attack.
– Police arrested Tina Terlato and charged her with murder, but that was later downgraded to infanticide. She pleaded guilty and received a community corrections order, meaning she did not have to spend any time in prison.
– In sentencing, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno cited Tina’s mental health issues as a determining factor.
– At the time of the attack, doctors feared Alicia would never walk again.
– Today, Alicia has made incredible steps in her recovery and is now on the verge of running for the first time. She attends a mainstream school and enjoys going to soccer games with her father and older brother, Luke.
– Incredibly, a court ordered that Tina continue to have access to her children, although they live with their father fulltime.
– While her father holds high hopes that the improvements of recent years will go on, he is prepared to be by her side regardless.
– ‘Just like any child you have, I want her to grow up happy and healthy, to get married and have children, to have independence and to work,’ Paul said.
– ‘But if it doesn’t eventuate like that it’s not going to worry me. She can stay with me for the rest of her life. I’m her father and nothing is going to change that.’