RENEE Jones didn’t take her baby to hospital the day she found bruises on her face because she feared she would lose the child to the system.
That was because she simply couldn’t explain the injuries she found early on December 8, 2004.
She told the Wodonga Coroner’s Court yesterday that she was didn’t want to attract the attention of social welfare workers.
“I was absolutely terrified they would take her away from me,” she said.
Instead, she took Charlotte to her GP the next day, grabbing the earliest available appointment — at 3.45pm.
Ms Jones and her then-partner, Brett Penrose, had returned to Wodonga from a job in his truck on the night before the bruises were found.
They picked up Charlotte about 12.15am from the Wodonga home of Ms Jones’ sister, qualified childcare worker Amanda Jones.
That was the last time she would see Charlotte as a “well little girl”, the only marks on her a “couple of scratches” on her left cheek and around her left ear.
The couple returned to their Wodonga home and Ms Jones put Charlotte in her cot, giving her a bottle. She fell asleep.
The next she saw Charlotte was about 11am that day, December 8.
Charlotte’s routine continued as usual — awake and standing in her cot when her mother went into her room.
She picked her up and put her in a walker.
The almost one-year-old toddled around the house eating a banana.
It was only when Ms Jones went to clean her face that she saw bruising on her left cheek and ear.
Ms Jones also noticed a smaller bruise on the opposite cheek.
A friend, Krystal Lanyon, came around and the pair discussed the bruises.
They took off all of Charlotte’s clothing except her nappy to check for more bruising.
Ms Jones found one the size “of my thumb” on her right rib area.
Ms Jones said the concern grew as she found more bruises on Charlotte, including one around her right elbow that looked a little swollen.
“You didn’t cause the injuries?” counsel assisting the coroner Doug Trapnell asked her.
“That’s true,” she said.
Ms Jones told how she and Mr Penrose had parked his truck at the Caltex service station in Melbourne Road, Wodonga, the night before.
They had returned home but Ms Jones later went out for about 45 minutes to collect some belongings from the sleeper cabin of the truck, as well as buy some toasted sandwiches and withdraw about $200 from an automatic teller machine.
“Brett was going to do it but he was very tired,” Ms Jones said.
When she returned home, Mr Penrose was “still on the couch” where she had left him.
Ms Jones noticed that Mr Penrose was acting strangely and appeared to be upset.
“His eyes were red and he looked like had been crying,” she said.
“In the end, he did say something was wrong. He said we might be getting kicked out of the house.”