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Man jailed for stepdaughter's death

A drug addict who became angry when his sick stepdaughter, 3, vomited onto herself rather than into a bucket has been jailed for 11 years over the girl's death.
Justice Bernard Teague today sentenced Phong Quach in the Supreme Court to 11 years' imprisonment, with a minimum of eight years, over the death of Liliana Lam on May 3 last year.
Outside court, Liliana's mother slammed his sentence as too lenient, saying the killing has ruined her life.
Dieu Lam, in tears, said her family had broken up over the death of Liliana.
"He's stuffed up my life, my family and my parents broke up blaming each other (over the death). And he's totally wrecked my life. My daughter was my joy and pride and my everything - and now she's gone and I can't live without her. A mother can't live without her kid. She's gone... what can I do."
"I was hoping that he would be charged for murder, not... manslaughter because I don't think it's fair. My daughter is defenceless and she can't help herself," Ms Lam said outside court.
"He said that he got angry and hit my daughter because she wouldn't listen but kids to that - kids don't know any better. I think it's bullshit that he got manslaughter and only got eight years. I don't think it's right."
Ms Lam called on the State Government to toughen sentences for child killers after a spate of deaths at the hands of male carers.
"I am really disappointed and it's not right."
Liliana died from internal bleeding after Quach became angry because she was vomiting, and closing her eyes when he had told her not to go to sleep, the Supreme Court heard last month.
Quach had told police he did not think Liliana would die from him pushing his full weight onto her 15-kilogram body. "I'd done it before, I thought she would've just got scared and then listened," he said.
In sentencing today, Justice Bernard Teague said Quach had used "brute force" against a "defenceless" child.
"I am troubled as to one aspect of what you told the police as to why you started to use pushing into the basin or against the floor as a form of discipline," Justice Teague told Quach.
"You said that you had been accused by Liliana's grandparents of assaulting her and your reaction was to think that if you were going to be accused of it you might as well do it.
"Your immaturity is reflected in that answer and in others that suggest that sustained pressure could be used as an acceptable means of disciplining a child.

AAP (6-12-2007)

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Jail for toddler's killer, but mum rejects apology

A mother has bitterly rejected an apology from her former de facto after he was jailed for at least eight years for killing her toddler daughter.
Dieu Lam said daughter Liliana, 3, had been her pride and joy, and she was shattered Phong Gia Quach had been allowed to plead guilty to manslaughter rather than be tried for murder.
"He totally wrecked my life, and I don't have my daughter," Ms Lam said.
"And my daughter was my pride and joy, my everything. And now she's gone, and I just can't live without her.
"I don't think it's fair that my daughter's defenceless, she can't friggin' help herself, and he said that he got angry and hit my daughter because she wouldn't listen.
"But kids do that. Kids don't know any better."
Quach, 23, wrote a letter of apology to Ms Lam.
But the grieving mother said yesterday she wasn't interested in reading it.
"An apology is not going to make me feel any better. It's not going to bring back my daughter. There's no point in saying sorry," she said.
Liliana bled to death after Quach crushed her against a bathroom sink.
He said he intended only to scare her because she kept vomiting on herself rather than into a bucket.
The Supreme Court heard Liliana suffered a ruptured mesentery -- a membrane lining the walls of the abdominal cavity -- and died from blood loss in the Monash Medical Centre in May last year.
An abdominal injury at least six weeks before her death had made her mesentery fragile.
Quach admitted pushing on Liliana's stomach 10-15 times as a means of disciplining her in the weeks before her death.
Family members said Liliana was scared of Quach and would cry if left in his company.
The court heard Quach had offered a bizarre explanation, saying Liliana's grandparents claimed he bashed the little girl and he thought, "If I am going to be accused of it, I might as well do it."
Justice Bernard Teague said Quach's immaturity was reflected in the comment.
Justice Teague said it was troubling Quach used sustained compression several times and with increasing force.
"She was a normal child, an endearing one, rather than a difficult one," the judge said.
"However when you perceived that she was disobeying you, you got angry with her.
"You did not use brutal acts like punching.
"Nevertheless, you did choose to use brute force."
Quach was jailed for a maximum of 11 years.
A new child homicide law was introduced to State Parliament this week.

Herald Sun (7-12-2007)
Katie Bice

Man Accused Of Killing Girl, Three

A man charged with murdering a three-year-old girl has made a brief appearance in a Melbourne court.
Phong Quach, 22, of Hanna Street, Noble Park, was last night charged with the murder of Liliana Lam.
She died at the Monash Medical Centre about 12.30am (AEST) yesterday.
The youngster, of Mihan Street, Noble Park, in southeast Melbourne, is believed to have been taken to hospital about 10.30pm on Wednesday.
Mr Quach appeared before a bail justice in an out of sessions hearing and reappeared at Melbourne Magistrates Court today before Magistrate Michael Coghlan.
Mr Coghlan remanded Mr Quach to reappear at the court for a committal mention hearing on August 30.

AAP (5-5-2006)

Toddler's Father Charged With Murder

Grieving and angry members of a Noble Park family say they will never be able to understand why innocent little Liliana Lam had to die as a result of alleged physical abuse.
Liliana died in the Monash Medical Centre early on Thursday morning after being taken to the hospital with internal injuries about 10.30pm on Wednesday.
She was taken to hospital by her 20-year-old mother, Dieu Lam, and Ms Lam's boyfriend.
It is alleged the toddler was assaulted in her Noble Park home.
Liliana's father, aged 22, has been charged with murder over the little girl's death.
Liliana's great-uncle, Minh Nguyen, yesterday told the Herald Sun Liliana was a beautiful and sweet little angel who did not see evil in the world due to her tender age.
He spoke of a girl who trusted everyone she met and who would hold his hand and kiss him whenever she saw him.
"She was a beautiful little girl and now she is dead," Mr Nguyen said yesterday while clutching a photograph of Liliana.
"She seemed happy. If you were leaving the house she would hold your hand and walk with you outside and give you a kiss and say 'bye bye'.
"She was happy with everybody.
"I really loved her. I wanted to adopt her."
Mr Nguyen said that Liliana was a defenceless toddler who deserved love and protection.
"What could she do to protect herself?" he asked. "What did she do to deserve this? I can't understand it.
"If she had been sick and died then I might not be so upset, but she's been (allegedly) abused."
Mr Nguyen said Ms Lam was understandably shattered.
"She has been crying," he said.
Mr Nguyen and other relatives sat outside the family home in Mihan St yesterday, watching the rain fall along with their tears.
The gloom of the day reflected their thoughts as they remembered beloved little Liliana.
"I will miss her," Mr Nguyen said.

Herald Sun (6-5-2006)
Paul Anderson

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