“WE finally found out what happened to Charlotte.”
Bob and Lesley Keen stood side by side outside the Wodonga courthouse yesterday after the inquest into their granddaughter’s death.
Charlotte Keen — called Bubbie by her mother Renee Jones and friends — died on December 17, 2004, three days before her first birthday.
Medical experts said she was the victim of shaken baby syndrome. She had a broken arm and was covered in bruises at the time of her death.
The inquest ended an almost nine-year wait for answers.
“As gruesome as it’s been to sit through this last — oh, excuse me,” Mrs Keen said, her voice faltering with emotion, her husband stoic beside her.
She began again.
“As gruesome as it’s been to sit through the past three weeks, we’ve finally found out what has happened.”
She said they had not known whether Charlotte was killed by accident, or a medical condition had contributed.
The truth was more terrible.
“Do you ever think someone would hurt a baby?” Mrs Keen asked.
“That is the last thing you think of. The human mind can’t cope with that and when it’s only a little 11½-month-old baby, you can’t cope with someone who would deliberately hurt your grandchild.”
The truth also brought some justice to Charlotte.
“We finally found out what happened to Charlotte so we can move on from here,” Mrs Keen said.
But closure will only come with a charge and conviction.
“Wouldn’t that be wonderful to have someone finally held responsible for causing her death?” she said.
“We’re not talking about just an injury here. Our grandchild, at the end of the day, died through someone’s abuse and that’s just unacceptable.
“She was beautiful. She had this beautiful black hair, this contagious smile, learning to walk, a typical baby. Pick me up, hold your hands out, pick me up.”
Ms Jones, who was too emotional to speak, released a picture of Charlotte and a statement.
She said she, too, had been waiting for answers.
“For the first time in nine years I have had a chance to speak, not only for Charlotte but for myself,” she said.