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THE mother of Daniel Thomas told police his babysitter had killed him in a chilling interview screened yesterday during the first day of an inquest into the Myrtleford toddler’s death.
During an interview held five days after Daniel, 2, was reported missing in October 2003, Donna Thomas, 43, said she had heard a “thump” during the night of Monday, October 13 and had discovered her son lying motionless on the bedroom floor on a bloodied towel.
She said she had watched as Mandy Martyn picked up her son and threw him back on the bed where he had been tied up.
“I think she might have killed him ... just the way she picked him up and Daniel being motionless,” Ms Thomas said.
Ms Martyn reported Daniel missing on October 17, 2003.
His remains were found five years later after a dog dragged his bones from underneath the house where Ms Thomas had lived before she had moved in with Ms Martyn.
The interview between homicide squad Detective Sgt Russell Sheather and Ms Thomas was played in the Wangaratta Coroners Court yesterday.
During the interview, Ms Thomas detailed ongoing and horrific abuse of Daniel at the hands of Ms Martyn during the seven weeks she had lived with her.
She said Daniel had been tied to his bed, gagged and kept in a cupboard for up to two days.
“I was too scared to do anything. I didn’t know how to deal with it,” Ms Thomas told police.
The counsel assisting Coroner Jacinta Heffey said evidence suggested Daniel died on Monday, October, 13, 2003; four days before Ms Martyn reported him missing.
That Monday night was the night on which Ms Thomas described hearing a thump and seeing her motionless son.
Ms Thomas said she had left Daniel on the bed and two days later she had gone to a class in Shepparton.
Two days later, she said Ms Martyn had called her on Friday from Myrtleford in the presence of a policeman to tell her Daniel was missing.
“He might have been dead, but I didn’t want to believe it,” Ms Thomas said.
“I’ve always wanted to believe he was alive.”
Ms Thomas and Daniel’s father Kevin Ruffels were present in court yesterday.
Ms Martyn’s lawyer Peter Chadwick said his client would not appear until she was required to give evidence next Tuesday.
He said his client would refuse to be cross-examined on the grounds of self-incrimination.
“She denies any responsibility for the death of Daniel Thomas,” Mr Chadwick said.