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Mum or lover caused tot's death: coroner

Thu July 5, 2012 9:09pm

The mother of a toddler who died in 2008, and her live-in lover, were the only people who could have been responsible for the little girl's death, the Victorian coroner has found.

ANGELA Jade Bannister was a month shy of her second birthday when she died of chest injuries in the Murray River town of Echuca in the state's north, in July 2008.

The day before, her mother's partner Daniel Simmons had reported that she had been bitten by a dog.

That claim has since been dismissed by the coroner, with a pathologist's report stating that the injury on her cheek suggested a human bite.

However, coroner Richard Wright says the wound ultimately has no relevance to how the child died.

In releasing his written findings on Thursday, Mr Wright said Simmons had concocted the story to deflect allegations of mistreatment from Angela's father, Bradley Bannister.

Mr Wright concluded Angela died from injuries received between 8.45pm (AEST) on July 18, 2008 and 6.52am the following day. He said she had sustained injuries to her ribs, internal organs and pelvis.

She was taken by ambulance to Echuca Hospital at 6.41am after Simmons failed to revive her using CPR, which he said he performed after witnessing her "fit" while he was changing her nappy.

Accounts of the night from Simmons and Angela's mother Tania Walker were inconsistent, the coroner noted.

However, they both said she was "unsettled" during the night.

Simmons said he was changing Angela's wet nappy in front of a heater when he noticed her leg rise in the air.

He then began the unsuccessful CPR.

The coroner concluded the injuries that led to Angela's death were caused by either Simmons or Walker or both of them acting together.

"The only people in a position to cause these injuries were Walker and Simmons," Mr Wright said.

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