A father and stepmother who allegedly left a toddler to die in her cot are facing more child cruelty charges.
Willow Dunn’s body was found malnourished and decomposing in her bed at her home in Brisbane on May 25, her face partially eaten by rats.
Her father, Mark James Dunn, 43, and his girlfriend Shannon Leigh White, 43, were charged with murder for allegedly letting her starve to death.
Willow’s father, Mark James Dunn, 43, and his girlfriend Shannon White, 43, were both charged with murder in the weeks after the four-year-old’s death
Two years later, Willow was allegedly found dead in her cot, malnourished and eaten by rats, and her father and his girlfriend White charged with leaving her to die
The four-year-old, who had Down syndrome, was found with infected sores on her hips down to the bone and burns to her scalp.
Dunn faced Brisbane Magistrates’ Court on Monday with an additional charge of child cruelty, and White two child cruelty charges along with drug possession.
The court heard it would take five months for a pathology report on Willow’s body to be ready, and the brief of evidence six weeks.
As such, their case was adjourned to October 12. White and Dunn will stay behind bars charged with murder under its ‘reckless disregard for human life’ definition.
Police previously confirmed in court a post-mortem revealed Willow died of malnourishment and sustained neglect.
White (pictured, centre) was last Wednesday arrested and later charged with murder. Dunn had been slapped with the same charge a week earlier
White (pictured, centre) was led away from the station in handcuffs looking worse for wear and wearing thongs and shabby clothes
Shannon White, 43, holds her toddler son, born August 2018, whom she shares with her boyfriend Mark Dunn
Investigators are probing whether Willow was left to starve to death and if she was being denied medication for her condition.
White, 43, moved from her home in Adelaide to start dating Dunn in early 2017, after his wife Naomi died days after giving birth to Willow in November 2015.
She brought her son, now 12, and teenage daughter Taliah, but left behind four adult daughters who claim to not have spoken to their mother in two years.
Dunn, 43, and White appeared to create a happy family-of-six along with Willow’s big brother, 7, and added their own baby on August 30, 2018.
They shared photos of Willow sitting in her high-chair, laughing in her pram, and wearing a t-shirt reading ‘daddy’s other chick’ that White bought her.
Willow’s complex family ties include her seven-year-old brother, three half-siblings, six step-siblings, and six step-nieces and nephews
Photo of Willow meeting her newborn half-brother – the child of White and Dunn – in September 2018
Willow (pictured, left), who had Down Syndrome, and her brother who is now seven (right) was sent to live with an aunt and uncle after her mother’s death
Another photo showed her on a walk with Taliah, 19, who sometimes fed and bathed the toddler.
How and why Willow went from a happy and doted on toddler to allegedly neglected and starved until she died will be investigated as part of the case against them.
Willow’s tangled family web includes her seven-year-old brother, three half-siblings, six step-siblings, and six step-nieces and nephews.
Since Dunn and White were arrested, the house in Cannon Hill appears to have been abandoned.
Teddy bears, a train set and a child’s pink play castle were just some of the toys which were left by the roadside outside the property.
Mark and Naomi Dunn (pictured) married in 2014, less than a year before her death from complications after giving birth to Willow
The rented house in the south-east Brisbane suburb of Cannon Hill now appears to be abandoned
Children’s items and rubbish bags are littered on the driveway, footpath and carport area of the house
Dozens of strangers gathered weeks after Willow’s death to mourn her at an emotional public memorial in Cannon Hill Park.
Parents whose children also have Down syndrome released butterflies and blew bubbles in a symbolic gesture to honour her life.
The event was organised by the city’s T21 group – a support network for parents of children with Down Syndrome, also known as Trisomy 21.
Kathy Dillon, who organised the memorial, told Daily Mail Australia someone needed to give Willow a sendoff.
Total strangers have come together to mourn the tragic loss of a little girl with Down syndrome (pictured, the memorial on Saturday) as her own family stands accused of her murder
‘Every child deserves love and support. I am happy now she is with her mummy, safe as she should be,’ she said.
Celebrant Kellie Rainbow told the gathered crowds the toddler’s death was a painful experience for so many people.
‘The passing of Willow hurts so much because her life was short and her story incomplete,’ she said.