One of the last photographs together. Nathan Katterns with his daughter Iyla who died almost a year ago.
One of the last photographs together. Nathan Katterns with his daughter Iyla who died almost a year ago.

Dad’s message to killer: ‘You’re not a mum, you’re a monster’

A little over a year since Tamara Gurney was accused of murdering her three-year-old daughter, the 41-year-old was found dead in her jail cell after apparently taking her own life.

Gurney, who was on remand in Silverwater Women's Correction Centre, was found unresponsive by prison officers shortly after 7.15am on August 9.

She had been awaiting trial after being charged with murdering her daughter Iyla Lee Katterns, whose body was discovered inside their home at Orange on August 1.

Gurney was in another room of the house at the time, allegedly slipping in and out of consciousness after a reported drug overdose.

Gold Coast teacher Nathan Katterns with his daughter Ilya, who died almost a year ago.
Gold Coast teacher Nathan Katterns with his daughter Ilya, who died almost a year ago.

The death of Iyla followed a bitter court battle between Gurney and her former partner Nathan Katterns, who had been awarded custody of the little girl.

Tamara Gurney was accused of murdering her daughter Iyla.
Tamara Gurney was accused of murdering her daughter Iyla.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, a still emotional Mr Katterns said he would never get over his daughter's death.

Nathan Katterns with a tattoo he had done in memory of his beloved daughter Ilya
Nathan Katterns with a tattoo he had done in memory of his beloved daughter Ilya

The Gold Coast schoolteacher said he drew strength from his seven-year-old son Kaito - who has a different mother - who also desperately missed his little sister.

"She was my angel," Mr Katterns said.

"I say a prayer for my daughter every day. I would give my own life for Iyla to still be alive.

"Without (Kaito), I would not be here. He loved his sister and misses her. When he is with me, we say the prayer together."

Mr Katterns, who has his daughter's name tattooed on his chest, held an beachside memorial last weekend to mark the one-year anniversary of her death, with those attending leaving surfboards and stuffed toys at a favourite lookout.

Friends of Mr Katterns have also set up a GoFundMe page to help the family pay for existing legal costs.

A bookmark Nathan Katterns had made as a tribute to his daughter.
A bookmark Nathan Katterns had made as a tribute to his daughter.

When asked about Gurney's death, Mr Katterns said he was aware of her passing.

"Rot in hell Tamara Lee Gurney, you cowardly monster," he said.

"You're not a mum, you're a monster."

Nathan Katterns had the name of his daughter tattooed on his chest so that she’d be close to his heart.
Nathan Katterns had the name of his daughter tattooed on his chest so that she’d be close to his heart.

A prison source said Gurney had not been deemed an "at risk" inmate, having been "future focused".

"She did a buy-up for the coming week," the source said.

"It may have been the anniversary (of her daughter's death) that was too much."

A Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said the department and NSW Police were investigating the death.

 

As with all deaths in custody, there would also be a coronial inquest, she said.

"A 41-year-old woman died at Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre on Sunday, August 9 2020," she said.

"She was found unresponsive in her cell by officers just after 7.15am.

"All deaths in custody are subject to a coronial inquest."

A bookmark commemorating Iyla Katterns’ life.
A bookmark commemorating Iyla Katterns’ life.

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