Hemi Goodwin-Burke.
Hemi Goodwin-Burke. Goodwin-Burke Family

Parents fighting for justice after toddler killed

HEMI Goodwin-Burke came into the world three weeks earlier than scheduled, weighed ten pounds and had a full mop of curly hair.

He began swimming lessons at six months, could walk by eight, and at the age of 18-months was bashed to death by his babysitter.

Today marks three years since Kerri-Ann Goodwin and Shane Burke turned the life support off for their only son, and began their ongoing battle to see justice for Hemi.

The Mackay couple have shared never before seen images of their bubbly son to commemorate the anniversary.

"He had beautiful big brown eyes, he was very content, nothing seemed to phase him," Ms Goodwin said.

"And he loved the water too, he was our water baby."


Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin in front of a Justice for Hemi banner.
STILL FIGHTING: Three years after the death of their only son, Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin are still fighting for justice. Madura McCormack

Hemi suffered hours of abuse at the hands of Matthew James Ireland, a family friend who was meant to be caring for him while his parents drove down to Brisbane for a doctors appointment.

The Mackay Supreme Court was told Hemi ultimately died after his leg was pulled out from underneath him in the bath, causing him to hit his head on the side of the tub.

Ireland pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison. He will be eligible for parole in March 2019.

His parents are adamant Ireland's sentence is inadequate.

They want to make sure the Townsville man never harms another child and those who are guilty of violent crimes against children face lengthy prison terms.

This month they travelled to Brisbane to speak with the Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council, which is expected to deliver its consultation paper into sentencing for child homicide to Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath on October 31.

Ms Goodwin and Mr Burke said it was important to remind the public that children deserve better than this.

They said no-one has taken the death of Hemi harder than his older sister, whose nickname is 'T'.

"They were best friends, people thought they were twins... they were inseparable those two," Mr Burke said.

"He had a trike with a little cart on the back, and one would ride in the back and one would be in the front."


Never before seen photos of Hemi Goodwin-Burke.
Never before seen photos of Hemi Goodwin-Burke. Goodwin-Burke Family

"But it was mainly him pushing her, because he was taller even though she was a year older," Ms Goodwin said.

"That's all she longs for now, she wants him home.

"She knows he's gone, she knows he's in his grave, but she still thinks we can bring him home.

"I do long for that every day."

Ms Goodwin and Mr Burke still save a place for their boy at the dinner table. They still have his cot and his clothes.

"It's hard. Especially days like today, because you keep playing that moment back in your head," Ms Goodwin said.

"He [Ireland] will get to come out of prison, he'll get to see his kids.

"But Hemi is never coming home."