Disabled tot’s parents charged with murder after she was starved, eaten by rats

The parents of a disabled four-year-old girl whose face was eaten by rats after dying of starvation will face trial for her murder.

Little Willow Dunn had deep pressure sores when police found her dead at her Brisbane home on May 25 last year.

The distressing details were revealed at a pre-trial hearing yesterday for her father, Mark Dunn, and his partner Shannon White, theMirror reports.

Both are both charged with murder and child cruelty.

Willow, who had Down Syndrome, was found in an "extremely confronting" state, police said at the time.

Officers believe she died two days before being found, Australian Associated Press reports, and had been left in her cot.

Speaking at Brisbane Magistrate's Court yesterday, Senior Constable Andrew Kitas said cops were told by paramedics at the scene that it looked like the girl's face had been eaten by rats.

Forensic Pathologist Dr Andrew Kedziora added that she had pressure sores that went down "to the bone".

The wounds were found mostly on her back, which suggests she was unable to move, he said.

"If a child is able to move even a little and change the position, this will immediately improve the circulation or blood flow through this area and slow down or reverse those changes," Dr Kedziora said.

"So the fact that these pressure sores are present, and they are so deep, shows that for quite a while the child did not move at all."

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Some sores were also found on her pelvic bones, which could've been caused by pressure from clothing, like nappies.

The vulnerable youngster also showed signs of having pancreatitis, which is often caused by poor nutrition and chronic dehydration, the doctor said.

Willow's most recent doctor visit was in 2018.

She was "quite lively and behaving normally" at the time, the court heard.

A height reading taken at that appointment and one taken at the time of her death suggested she may have stopped growing, Dr Kedziora said.

The eight months he cited as the normal amount of time for the drop in height to happen can be sped up if a child suffers intermittent disease of childhood infections.

Dunn and White will stand trial at the Supreme Court, but a date is still to be set.

Both are still on remand after each being charged with one count of murder and another of child cruelty.

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