Sister writes of grief and loss for Tanilla Warrick-Deaves





The drawing is of two young girls at a grave. Two sisters next to a headstone topped with flowers.

The words, simple but searingly honest: "I recen [reckon] you deserve a long time in prison. You have killed my baby sister. I am scard [scarred] for life. I am "very very anyrey [angry] and destrot [distraught]."

The sketch was given to Justice Stephen Rothman during a sentencing hearing for Warren Ross, who was found guilty of the horrific murder of Tanilla Warrick-Deaves.

The two-year-old was beat into unconsciousness at her Watanobbi home on the central coast following weeks of abuse, culminating in her death on August 30, 2011. Ross, 30, was found guilty of Tanilla's murder last December.

He was the new boyfriend of Tanilla's mother, Donna Deaves, who has been jailed for at least nine years for Tanilla's manslaughter.

Tanilla's two sisters prepared short victim impact statements which included the sketch. One of the girls appeared in court by video link to read out her statement, but nerves overwhelmed her and an adult woman read both statements on their behalf.

"Do you no [know] me and my sister are really arey [angry] becaues [because] you have made the badest [baddest] thing to had hapd [happened]", the younger girl wrote.

The girls' statements were followed by Tanilla's father, Adrian Warrick.

But as he told how the horrific torture and murder of his daughter had devastated his life, Ross loudly swore and called him "a dog".

As Mr Warrick spoke of the regret he felt at not being able to save Tanilla, Ross remained defiant, standing up and shouting abuse at Mr Warrick from the dock.

He pointed towards Mr Warrick's family and supporters, many of whom were wearing bright pink T-shirts with a picture of Tanilla and the words, "Stand up don't give up".

His counsel, Sarah McNaughton, SC, told the NSW Supreme Court Ross needed to be held in the highest level of protective custody at Long Bay jail.

"He is very, very concerned about his safety," Ms McNaughton said.

Outside the court, Mr Warrick said he was determined to finish reading his victim impact statement despite Ross' outburst.

"He just made himself look like a total fool. It just goes to show his mentality, just the type of person he is," Mr Warrick said.

Mr Warrick's partner Brooke Bowen said Ross's behaviour was very upsetting.

"He just kept turning around, looking at us. It felt intimidating because we are here for Tanilla. We're not here for him, to see him, we are here for Tanilla to have her justice and for Adrian to have a voice.

"To yell out enraged the way he did, it's just unbelievable."

When asked about Ross' fears for his safety in jail, Ms Bowen said Tanilla was not given protection from him during her short life.

"Bad luck for him," she said.

During the trial, the Crown alleged Ross abused the child in the weeks before her death as he tried to toilet train her, forcing her to run laps, whipping her with various implements and hitting her.

The abuse culminated in him striking the child repeatedly, banging her head on a glass shower screen, holding her over the toilet and causing her to bash her head on a cupboard door. She lay unconscious in a pram for two days until she stopped breathing.

Deaves told the jury she watched Ross beat her daughter but was unable to stop it.

In his victim impact statement, Mr Warrick said Tanilla loved pushing her dolls in a pram, colouring in, learning new things and seeing the ocean.

"But unfortunately we will never get to see her do any more of this or learn any more new things in life that she should have had opportunity to experience," he said.

He said he could not understand why Ross inflicted such harm on his daughter because she was not toilet trained as quickly as he wanted.

"Why was it so important to punish her so harsh that it took her life?

"What did she do so bad that gave you the right to hurt Tanilla? None whatsoever. She was a defenceless child," he said.

He asked Justice Stephen Rothman to give Ross "a lengthy sentence or possibly life if that allows".

"Your honour, I ask that you please consider all the evidence and how Tanilla suffered at hands of this man and how her tiny, battered body lay dying for two days and how she suffered months of abuse before she was taken from us."

Sentencing submissions will continue in May.

This story Sister writes of grief and loss for Tanilla Warrick-Deaves first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.