New South Wales police have charged a 48-year-old man with the murder of his nine-month-old daughter, whose body was found by passers-by on the beach at Surfers Paradise after midnight on Monday.
The man, who is homeless, was extradited from Queensland last night, after NSW police believed that the baby had originally been murdered at Tweed Heads, across the border.
The father cannot be named for legal reasons. Another child, a four-year-old boy, who was with his parents when Queensland Police located them in Broadbeach on Monday and arrested the father, is now in state care.
The 23-year-old mother is undergoing a mental health assessment in a mental health facility. She has not been charged and NSW Police say they are still considering the role she played leading up to her baby’s death.
NSW Police will allege that the baby drowned in the water at Tweed Heads. Police divers have been searching the Tweed River and surrounding harbour as part of Strike Force Palua, which is investigating the alleged murder.
They suspect the baby’s body drifted on currents for two days before washing ashore 30km across the border at Surfers Paradise.
NSW Detective Chief Inspector Brendan Cullen said the circumstances around how the baby ended up in the water are unknown at this point.
“We’re hoping divers may assist us, we’re hoping members of the public might assist us, we’re hoping CCTV might assist us,” he said.
CCTV footage is believed to show the family of four heading across the border from Queensland, where they were living in a tent on the Gold Coast, while subsequent images show only three returning.
The father appeared in Tweed Heads Local Court this morning via video link and did not enter a plea, speak or seek bail. The matter has been adjourned until February 2019.
An autopsy of the baby’s body has yet to be completed.
A vigil for the girl on the beach were she was found is being held today. An impromptu shrine of flowers, notes and teddy bears from members of the public expressing sympathy for the child’s death has formed near the site where she was found.