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Life in jail for baby killer

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A man who bludgeoned a 10-month-old boy to death as he burgled a Victorian home has been jailed for life for the “evil” murder.

Harley Hicks, 21, was on Friday jailed for life with a 32-year non-parole period.

Hicks used a homemade baton made of copper wire wrapped in tape to bludgeon 10-month-old Zayden Veal-Whitting more than 30 times about the face and head during a burglary spree in Bendigo in June 2012.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye said Hicks unleashed a ferocious attack on Zayden that involved a large number of blows to his face, head and body.

Zayden was innocent and utterly harmless to Hicks, the judge said.

Justice Kaye said Hicks had displayed no remorse after the crime or during his trial.

Justice Kaye said Hicks perpetrated an extraordinarily violent bashing on Zayden involving multiple blows with the baton to the head, face and other parts of his body.

“He was utterly harmless, defenceless and helpless,” Justice Kaye said.

“Any human being with even a shred of decency and humanity could only feel compassion, tenderness and protectiveness towards an infant in those circumstances.

“By contrast, you inflicted a brutal bashing, with a lethal instrument, on that baby.

“You crushed his skull, you savagely beat him with at least 30 blows.

“It is almost unthinkable that any human being could have carried out such a sickening crime that you have committed.

“What you did was totally and utterly evil.”

Justice Kaye said Hicks, of North Bendigo, had shown no remorse.

“At no stage of the trial could I detect from you any sign of remorse. Nor was there even the slightest indication by you of any pity or sympathy for the baby, whose life you had taken, or for his family, whose lives you have shattered.

“Rather, you seemed totally oblivious and impervious to such human feelings.”

Supporters of Hicks left the Bendigo court peacefully without comment. Zayden’s mother, Casey Veal, also left without comment.