"THAT poor little fella, somebody needs to step in and help him."
These were the words of a Myrtleford mother in the Wangaratta Coroner's Court this morning who spoke of the guilt she felt for not reporting abuse of Daniel Thomas to authorities other than Mungabareena Aboriginal Co-operative.
Mandy Martyn, her three children, Donna Thomas and Daniel, visited Rosemarie Loader, or Jane Loader as she's known, at her Myrtleford home in the weeks before Daniel was reported missing on October 17, 2003.
Ms Loader's daughter knew Ms Martyn's daughter through school, but it was the first time the families had met.
Ms Loader told police in a 2003 statement after Daniel disappeared that during the visit, Ms Martyn made Daniel sit on the floor and lie behind the couch, while Ms Martyn's children sat quietly on the couch.
She said Ms Martyn admitted to "belting" Daniel.
At that stage, she thought Daniel was Ms Martyn's son.
Ms Loader said she reported the behaviour to the heads of the Mungabareena Aboriginal Co-operative.
"We did the only thing we felt we could do. We went to our own people," she told the court via video-link.
Ms Loader said she should have gone to police.
"The guilt we have lived with," she said.
The inquest continues.