Warning: This story contains distressing details that may disturb some readers
A Kiwi father has been accused of starving his intellectually-disabled daughter and leaving her to die after the child was found decomposing in the bedroom of a Brisbane home.
Four-year-old Willow, who reportedly had Down syndrome, is believed to have died on or around Saturday, May 23, but was not found until Monday morning. The girl's hip bones were exposed by horrific, deep sores, police say, according to local media.
New Zealander Mark James Dunn, 43, has been charged with his daughter's murder after he allegedly told officers he found the girl dead in her cot on Saturday, but did not seek medical help. Her face had reportedly been attacked by rats.
Dunn said to paramedics, "I'm in trouble, aren't I?" as they arrived at the Cannon Hill property, the Australian reports.
Forensic investigators are now working to determine when exactly the four-year-old died due to her malnourished appearance.
The girl's stepmother, who lived at the house with her own children, has not been charged, news.com.au reports.
Neighbours told the Courier-Mail they had never seen the child at the home.
"The death of any child is a tragedy. 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," Child Safety Minister Di Farmer told local media on Monday.
Dunn has been charged under the new extended definition of murder, which includes reckless indifference to human life, under the Queensland State Government's tough news penalties for child killers introduced in 2019.
The case was briefly mentioned in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday. Dunn did not appear and was represented by the Legal Aid Queensland duty lawyer.
Dunn has been remanded in custody and his case will return to court on July 20.
Liberal National Party shadow police minister Dan Purdie said that "serious questions need to be asked" about Willow's case.
"The big question in such a horrific case of alleged neglect is how a vulnerable young child has slipped through the cracks and how this could have been prevented," the former child protection officer said.