Family & Pets
Father's reason for leaving little Willow Dunn to die in her cot
A man accused of leaving his four-year-old daughter to starve to death, has told police why he left his little girl in her bed for so long she had developed sores that went right to the bone.
Little Willow Dunn's body was found malnourished and decomposing in her bed at her Brisbane home on Monday.
Reports say her face was partially eaten away by rats.
Her father, Mark James Dunn, 43, has since been charged with murder after he allegedly found the toddler dead on Saturday and didn't call emergency services.
“We just can't wait to meet her,” Ms Dunn had written to a friend who had commented on how heavily pregnant she was in photos from a party.
Instead of Ms Dunn being able to meet her baby, she died in childbirth - which Dunn says sent him into a spiral.
Dunn allegedly told police after his arrest he couldn't handle his daughter’s condition - Down Syndrome - and was depressed about the death of his wife.
Reports say Willow was sent to live with relatives when she was born.
It is also understood the toddler had Down Syndrome.
A year later, Dunn took his daughter and her brother, who is now seven, back to live with him despite relatives attempting to take custody of both children.
He allegedly left the helpless toddler lying in her bed long enough for her to have infected sores on her hips that went right down to the bone.
Her body was reportedly found in a back bedroom inside the Brisbane home on Bent Street in Cannon Hill, where she lived with her father, stepmother and stepsister.
Willow's stepmother and stepsister are not facing charges. There is no suggestion there was any wrongdoing.
Ms Dunn also had an adult son and daughter from a previous relationship, who mourned their baby half-sister on Facebook.
“Rest in Peace Willow. It's so heartbreaking things have turned out this way, but you will forever be in our hearts. Fly high with mum,” her son wrote.
Neighbours began leaving flowers for the sweet toddler on Tuesday, with many saying they had never seen the little girl themselves despite the family moving in over a year ago.
“They’ve been there for that long and we didn’t know a little girl lived there,” one neighbour said.
“That’s the big take-home for me. I can’t believe it.”
Dunn is being charged under a new definition of murder in Queensland which targets child-killers who showed a “reckless indifference to human life”.
The case has been adjourned until July 20 after it was briefly mentioned in Brisbane magistrates court on Tuesday, although Dunn did not appear in person.
Queensland’s tough new law was introduced on May 1, 2019 and permits that a person can be charged with murder if death is caused by a “reckless indifference to human life”.
To be found guilty under the new law would mean the accused doing an act has foresight that death will likely arise from the act.
Child Safety Minister Di Farmer has given no detail over the department's contact with the family.
“The death of any child is a tragedy,” she said in a statement.
“I know the death of this little girl has had a profound impact on our community and my deepest sympathies go to those who knew and loved this child.”
One neighbour, Kathy Cowell spoke with 10 News while after laying flowers outside the house in honour of Willow.
”It's just a sad way for a little girl to go,” she told 10 News.
“I’ve got grandchildren, it's just very, very sad. No four-year-old deserves to pass like that.”
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