Aaron Bunch Journalist with Australian Associated Press | Collection of published work | + 61 484 008 119 | abunch@aap.com.au

Aaron Bunch
Enraged Qld dad who killed toddler jailed

A Queensland man has been jailed for torturing his toddler son before fatally hurling him against a wooden bedhead.

April 11, 2019

An enraged Queensland father, who slammed his disobedient toddler son on a bed with so much force it killed him, will spend at least 10 years in prison.

Shane Purssell Akehurst, 37, was convicted of manslaughter and torture after he threw Corby Mitchell’s small body against the wooden frame of a bed in March 2015 because the boy wouldn’t go to sleep.

The impact was so powerful, the 21-month-old suffered a swollen brain, rib fractures and bleeding of the lungs.

He was declared brain dead two days later and his life support system was switched off.

Akehurst, a father of three, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and torture in the Brisbane Supreme Court in January.

An autopsy found Corby had 81 separate injuries, many stemming from a series of assaults Akehurst had inflicted on his son from November 2014.

At his sentencing on Thursday, Justice Martin Burns said Akehurst had failed in his duty as a father to love, nurture and protect Corby.

“Instead, and apparently without any compunction, you subjected him to a persistent course of deliberate cruelty involving multiple acts of serious violence over a lengthy period of time,” he said.

“This included punching your infant child in the face on more than one occasion, infliction of disturbing injuries to his genitals and squeezing his torso with such force as to cause his ribs to break.”

Akehurst told police he had anger issues that sometimes caused him to lose control. He admitted punching Corby in the head on multiple occasions when the boy woke and called out to his mother during the night.

The autopsy also revealed Corby had poorly healed fractures to his ribs from bear hug squeezing that caused his ribs to “pop” and a missing fingernail.

“Indeed, it is a horrifying aspect of this case that the older fractures of the ribs that you caused had the effect of remodelling his chest cavity,” Justice Burns said.

“I can only imagine what unremitting pain and suffering Corby was forced to endure.”

The court heard Akehurst resented the child, who was receiving more attention from his wife than their older son and daughter

On Thursday, he was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years’ prison for manslaughter and five years for torturing his son.

The sentences will be served concurrently and with the four years he has already spent on remand in prison, Akehurst will be eligible for parole in six years.

Justice Burns said there was a possibility Akehurst could die in jail due to a brain tumour he had suffered since 2014.

“You will continue to receive treatment at least for one or two years in the form of chemotherapy,” he said.

“That and any other treatment for your medical condition will make custody more burdensome to you.”

Outside court, Corby’s aunt Tanya Jeffrey said her family had been “torn apart” by the boy’s death and they were disappointed with the sentence.

“He’s going to get out and get a second chance at life. Corby hasn’t got that chance,” she said.

“It should have been life, the book should have been thrown at him.”

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