INQUEST: Daniel Thomas victim of horrific abuse

- GALLERY: Toddler Daniel Thomas

MYRTLEFORD toddler Daniel Thomas was the victim of ongoing horrific abuse at the hands of his babysitter, an inquest into his death heard today.

A police interview with his mother Donna Thomas recorded four days after the toddler was reported missing in October 2003 was screened during the first day of the inquest at Wangaratta Coroner's Court.

In the interview, Ms Thomas tells police she moved into Mandy Martyn's house six or seven weeks before the two-year-old disappeared.

She told police that her son was tied to his bed, gagged and left in a cupboard from one hour to up to two days in a litany of abuse.

"I wasn't happy about it. I'd tell her I wasn't happy about it but she didn't care," Ms Thomas said.

"It was her house. I didn't feel it was my place to say anything.

"I was too scared to do anything. I didn't know how to deal with it."

Ms Thomas told police she moved into Ms Martyn's house so she could get help to look after Daniel, who suffered from debilitating eczema.

"Why don't you stay with me and I'll discipline Daniel," Ms Thomas told police of what Ms Martyn said to her.

Ms Thomas was present in the Wangaratta Coroner's Court yesterday as the video evidence was played, but left with friends and family mid-way through.

Ms Martyn was not in court and her lawyer Peter Chadwick told the coroner that his client objected to giving evidence on the grounds of self-incrimination.

"She denies any responsibility for the death of Daniel," Mr Chadwick said.

Ms Martyn will be subpoenaed to appear next Tuesday.

Daniel's remains were found five years later, his bones dragged out by a dog from underneath the Myrtleford house Ms Thomas rented when she moved into Ms Martyn's home.

Twenty-four witnesses are expected to give evidence during the eight-day inquest.

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