A woman jailed over the death of a two-year-old boy in south Queensland was portrayed in court as a “backstabbing liar with no remorse”.
Warning: This story contains details that some readers may find disturbing.
Lisa Rose Halcrow, 42, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of toddler Connor Horan.
The High Court in Toowoomba heard Halcrow was babysitting Connor in Warwick in August 2018 when she grabbed his jaw and hit him in the back of the head with such force that he fell down the stairs.
The court heard that Halcrow had been suffering from the after-effects of alcohol, methylamphetamine and cannabis when she was upset with Connor’s behavior.
Forensic examinations revealed that Connor suffered blunt force trauma to his head, as well as bleeding in his intestines and pancreas.
Prosecutor Philip McCarthy told the court Halcrow waited 20 minutes and changed into fresh clothes before taking Connor to the hospital.
The court heard Connor was dead when he arrived at Warwick Hospital, but doctors and nurses tried for an hour to revive him.
Detectives later found Halcrow’s clothing covered in the Connor’s blood, as well as a cloth used to wipe blood from the two-year-old’s ears.
A “Naughty Little Boy”
Connor’s mother, Emily Horan, who read her victim’s testimony in court, said her son is a “cheeky little boy” who always puts a smile on her face.
“Every time I dropped him off anywhere, he would always cry – our bond was very deep,” Ms Horan said.
“Every day [after his death I] was overwhelmed by so much devastation.”
Ms Horan said she feels a pang in her heart when she sees families with children the same age as Connor.
“I can’t stop thinking about how my life with Connor should have been,” she said.
“Would Connor talk now? What would Connor plan? What would Connor love to do? My whole life revolved around him.”
The last one holding Connor
Connor’s grandmother, Deborah Ballard, also read a victim impact statement in court.
“Connor was born on my birthday,” Ms. Ballard said.
“I was the one who cut his umbilical cord. I was the first to hold him in this world.
“I was the last one to hold him and rocked him for half an hour.
“He was curled up in a blanket … only his nose was sticking out, cradling him and showing how much he was loved.”
Ms Ballard said leaving Connor’s body in the hospital was the hardest thing she’s had to do in her life.
“I had to go away and leave him on a bed in the hospital never to see him again.”
Wearing a white shirt and black jacket, Halcrow was emotional as the victim’s impact statements were read, often glancing down.
The court heard that Halcrow had become friends with Ms Ballard after working with her at an aged care facility and had started babysitting Connor after she offered to help Ms Horan.
Outside the court, Ms Ballard said she could get on with her life now.
“We have to accept what we have and [Halcrow] can take the consequences,” she said.
“She was a trusted friend. She caused us grief and took our grandson’s life.”
A “cruel and brutal” death
In his submissions to the court, prosecutor Philip McCarthy said Halcrow had previously been convicted of assault, showing that she had impulsive behavior and was willing to engage in violent behavior.
He said Halcrow’s behavior of continuing to lie to the police and not taking responsibility did not justify a pardon.
“This is another example of the horrific and brutal murder of a very young child,” McCarthy said.
In delivering his verdict, Judge David Boddice said Halcrow’s insult was a serious example of manslaughter.
“[Connor] Dependent on you for care and protection. They did exactly the opposite,” he said.
“You became obsessed with that kid and felt like you had some sort of parenting role…that I think is an aggravating aspect of what you ended up doing to Connor.”
Judge Boddice said Halcrow lied about Connor’s death for years, adding to the family’s pain.
“[A police walk-through] portrays a backstabbing liar with no regrets,” he said.
“Connor’s family will have to live with this for the rest of their days. They have to live with that for the rest of their days.
“However, your loss is so much more serious because Connor was taken from you because of your actions.”
Judge Boddice sentenced Halcrow to 10 years in prison and declared her a violent offender, meaning she would have to serve at least eight years before she could be paroled.
As Halcrow was led away from the dock, members of her family shouted, “We love you Lisa” and “See you soon.”
Another charge of aggravated assault against Halcrow was remanded to Toowoomba District Court.