Father’s disgust at sentence for 100kg man who stomped on toddler

The Victorian father of three-year-old Bella Lawrence says he feels sick the killer may only be behind bars for six-and-a-half years.

The Victorian father of three-year-old Bella Lawrence says he feels sick the killer may only be behind bars for six-and-a-half years.   Photo: Supplied

The father of a little girl killed by a 100kg man who stood on her has expressed disgust the killer of his “angel in disguise” could walk free in six-and-a-half years.

Harley Woodford, 22, was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years jail for killing his partner’s three-year-old daughter Bella Lawrence by standing on her stomach after becoming frustrated at tripping over her in their family home at Horsham.

The Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday heard Woodford was 20 when the act occurred in September 2015.
 He and his partner Anjie Roberts were caring for their newborn baby at the time, with Woodford also acting in a father role to Ms Roberts’ two children from a previous relationship.

Justice Jane Dixon said after standing on Bella, Woodford told her to tell her mother she had a stomach ache and to go to bed.
 However, Bella became “limp and unresponsive” the next day, dying in hospital from blunt force trauma to the abdomen, a ruptured liver and bleeding in both kidneys.

Bella Lawrence

Bella Lawrence rarely wore anything that wasn’t pink or princess related.

Plagued by shame and fear, Woodford kept his culpability a secret until the matter was subject to coronial investigation, Justice Dixon said.

Justice Dixon said since being in custody, Woodford’s contact with Ms Roberts and the other children had ceased, and that he had been targeted by other offenders “because of the nature of your crime”.

She said immaturity, an inability to manage anger, and the stresses of work and parenting had contributed to the killing, but acknowledged Woodford was remorseful.

She sentenced him to nine years and six months’ imprisonment, with a non-parole period of six-and-a-half years, acknowledging he had already spent 325 days in custody.

Speaking outside court, Bella’s father Jonathan Lawrence told reporters the day had been “disgusting”.

“Today’s sentencing will never be enough to put my family at peace of what has happened,” he read from a prepared statement.

“My daughter never made it to his minimum term that he will be serving, which makes me sick.

“We will never see her face again, never hear her voice again and never be able to tell her we love her again.”



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