A nine-month-old baby found dead on a Gold Coast beach on Monday was allegedly thrown into a harbour at Tweed Heads by her father in what police say may have been a form of “sacrifice”, the ABC understands.
The baby’s body is believed to have drifted in the water for two days before washing up at Surfers Paradise beach, where she was found after midnight on Monday.
Detectives are investigating whether the father, who is homeless, allegedly “sacrificed” the child, whose pram was found on the water’s edge near Jack Evans Boat Harbour.
The parents of the child were known to police, and were found at Broadbeach on Monday, along with a four-year-old boy who has been taken into care.
Detective Chief Inspector Brendan Cullen said divers were searching the Tweed River and Jack Evans Boat Harbour.
“The full circumstances of how that child got in the water is unknown. We’re hoping divers may assist us. We’re hoping members of the public might assist us. We’re hoping CCTV might assist us. These are the things that will piece together what’s happened here,” he said.
“An autopsy was held in Brisbane yesterday – the results of that autopsy have not been completed as yet and we are awaiting those from pathology.
“That’s extremely important information and that will assist our investigation.”
The mother of the baby has been released from custody and is being assessed by mental health authorities.
A 48-year-old man has appeared in a Gold Coast court over the baby’s death.
Police believe the baby died at Tweed Heads. New South Wales detectives applied in the Southport Magistrates Court for the man to be extradited.
The man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to an unrelated public nuisance offence and the court was told he had a history of street offences and mental health issues.
The man’s lawyer, Sunil Dutt, told the court his client suffered from schizophrenia.
The man is due to appear in Tweed Heads Local Court on Thursday.
‘Extremely complex investigation’
The family of four was tracked on CCTV travelling from the Gold Coast to Jack Evans Boat Harbour on Saturday and Queensland Police then captured images of the three of them catching a bus at Coolangatta, sources said.
Detective Chief Inspector Cullen said New South Wales Police have been working closely with Queensland Police.
“Those investigations have led police to a very strong geographical nexus with New South Wales, and in particular Tweed Heads and we believe at this stage the nine-month-old child passed away in Tweed Heads,” he said.
“The circumstances, the time and the place of where that actually happened is still under investigation.
“This is an extremely complex investigation as it crosses jurisdictional boundaries, time zones and has made what is a very tragic investigation even more complex.”
Tweed Heads resident Willem Ungermann said the baby’s parents regularly frequented the park near the Jack Evans Boat Harbour.
He said he had seen the mother changing the nine-month-old in the past week.
“They seemed like normal people. We said ‘hello’ and stuff like that,” he said.
“They looked totally fine.”
Mr Ungermann said the couple lived in a van, and said there had been a spike in homelessness in the area.
“It’s got very, very bad over the last two years.”