TRUE CRIME: How M’boro toddler’s brutal murder changed law
THE shocking abduction and murder of a Maryborough toddler 25 years ago left an indelible mark on Queensland's legal system.
Kate Beveridge was just two years old when she was brutally murdered at the hands of a 16-year-old boy on May 31, 1994.
The teen killed the toddler by swinging her by the ankles and repeatedly hitting her head on the floor, the Courier-Mail reported.
He then sexually assaulted the tiny girl.
Her body was later found in long grass near a railway line about 150m from her home, according to newspaper reports at the time.
The girl's parents, who were both deaf, did not hear their daughter's killer break into their home.
Her killer was sentenced to 14 years in prison - the maximum sentence for a juvenile offender at the time.
At the time Carl Beckman, Kate's uncle, said the toddler's killer should have got "20 or 30 years or a rope around his neck".
During sentencing, Justice Glen Williams described the killing as "one of the most horrendous crimes I have seen in my years on the bench".
Justice Williams said his impression of the teenager during his trial in Maryborough in 1996 was that he had shown no remorse.
He said if a life sentence had been available under the Juvenile Justice Act, he would have imposed it.
"Life would be more appropriate for your case than many convicted murderers I have had to sentence to life," Justice Williams said.
Justice's Williams was not alone in his thinking.
The unthinkable tragedy helped spark a review of the Juvenile Justice Act in the Queensland Parliament, which led to an amendment allowing for life imprisonment of juvenile offenders in particularly heinous circumstances.
Justice Williams said the crime was viewed as being more serious given the disabilities of Kate's parents, Ronald and Lorraine, who were both profoundly deaf and mute.
He said they had made great sacrifices to give their child what they could in life.
Denver Beanland, the Attorney-General at the time, said under the provisions of the Corrective Services Act, the teenager could be eligible for parole after serving half his sentence.
He said Kate Beveridge's murder had been "extraordinarily brutal" and demonstrated the lack of sentencing options for judges dealing with serious and violent juvenile offenders.
At the time he said the measures were tough but fair.
"The previous government declared juveniles untouchables," Mr Beanland said.
"Police were frustrated in their ability to act and offenders laughed at the law when they walked away with a slap on the wrist."
Kate's killer had a long criminal history of aggression and violence and had twice escaped from juvenile justice centres.
The Juvenile Justice Act has since been replaced by the Youth Justice Act, a provision of which still allows for judges to hand down a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for juvenile offenders.
Kate was buried at Polson Cemetery at Point Vernon and her father Ronald, at the age of just 43, was later buried there with his daughter.