The family and friends of killed 18-month-old Moranbah boy Hemi Burke outside court.
The family and friends of killed 18-month-old Moranbah boy Hemi Burke outside court. Lucy Smith

Family remembers toddler, accused killer to face trial

THE grandfather of a little boy who died last year joined more than a dozen family members and friends at Mackay Magistrates Court Tuesday morning wearing t-shirts in memory of Hemi Burke.

Townsville man Matthew James Ireland, 31, is accused of murdering the 18-month-old Moranbah boy on March 26, 2015.

They had travelled from as far as Brisbane, Tieri and Moranbah for the committal hearing of Ireland.

In court, defence barrister Tim Ryan consented to the matter going to trial.

Magistrate Scott Luxton ordered Ireland to stand trial in the Supreme Court in Mackay at a date yet to be set.

Ireland, who appeared via videolink, did not enter a plea or apply for bail.

Outside court, Hemi's mother Kerri-Ann said watching the proceedings had left her feeling "broken".

"He was our boy. He had big brown eyes, he was always happy," she said.

Richard Goodwin said his granddaughter, Hemi's sister who is now 4, still asked her parents, Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin, if they could go to the hospital to pick up Hemi.

"They were inseparable, they were best mates," Mr Goodwin said.

"She misses him so much... She's got his little car, she's got his beanbag.

"It's changed her heaps. She doesn't trust people."

Father Shane Burke said that "Hemi was just full of smiles".

Mr Goodwin teared up as he showed media photos and videos of the little boy.

"(He was) a beautiful, cheerful kid. Always happy and smiling," he said.

During the committal hearing, Mr Ryan cross-examined Detective Sergeant Curtis Zealey and Senior Constable Daniel Feldman.

Det Sgt Zealey testified that he had first interviewed Ireland about 3.50am on March 25 last year.

He said Ireland then became a suspect and was then interviewed again at 8.50am. Following that, Ireland was charged with grievous bodily harm.

Det Sgt Zealey testified that he asked whether Ireland was Indigenous, and he'd replied yes.

Mr Ryan asked why he hadn't asked if Ireland wanted to speak with a lawyer from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service.

Det Sgt Zealey said before the second interview he had asked whether Ireland wanted to speak to a solicitor and he had declined.


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