William Tyrrell’s foster mother refused to do a child’s washing and described their clothes as smelling “putrid”, a court has heard.
The coupled faced a five-day hearing before Parramatta Local Court having denied a series of assault and intimidation allegations relating to a young child, who is not William.
The charges arose after police, as part of Strike Force Rosann, began monitoring the couple by placing covert listening devices in their home and car and taps on their phones.
William’s foster mother, 58, has pleaded guilty to two counts of assault against the child, who cannot be identified.
She has pleaded not guilty to two counts of intimidation against the same young child while William’s foster father, 56, has pleaded not guilty to one count of common assault and one count of intimidation.
On Friday, the foster mother’s barrister John Stratton SC attempted to have a majority of the charges against his client thrown out.
He argued five of the six allegations of intimidation - which constitute the two intimidation charges - did not meet the criteria of the offences.
One of the counts of intimidation related to an incident during which the foster mother refused to wash the child’s clothes and made them do it themselves amid an argument over the child’s behaviour.
The foster mother chastised the child because their clothes smelled “putrid” and told them to not “act like a homeless person”, the court heard.
Other counts related to threats to “throw” and “slap” the child, and also threatened to have the child removed from the home, the court heard.
Magistrate Susan McIntyre said there was a “prima facie case” to answer on all the charges and it could be argued that all of the woman’s statements caused the child to fear mental or physical harm.
The matter will now return to court in December for closing submissions before Ms McIntyre hands down her judgment at a later date.
Over the course of the hearing, the court was played tapes of the moment the woman kicked the child in the leg and smacked them with a wooden spoon.
Megan Payne, from the Department of Communities and Justice, told the court that she was present in November 2021 when the child was removed from the foster parent’s home.
“As (the child) was leaving the residence, (the child) began to cry and hug (the foster mother),” Ms Payne said.
“(The foster mother) said ‘it’s not your fault, I’ve done something I shouldn’t have done’.”
Previously the court heard another woman was acting as a support person for the child when they was interviewed by police in November 2021.
The woman told the court that during a break in the interview, when police were not present in the room, the young child disclosed another alleged incident in which the foster father put his hands around their neck.
On Friday, Ms Payne said she was also present when the child was later interviewed by police and watched via an adjoining viewing room.
She said that during a break she overheard the child make a disclosure.
“There was a break and (the child) said ‘my dad put his hand around my neck, my dad has mental health issues, my dad has anger management issues,” Ms Payne told the court.
The woman denied a suggestion from the foster father’s defence that she overheard the child say he put a hand on their shoulder.
One of the foster mother’s co-workers and friends told the court that she had a phone conversation with her in October 2021 in which she admitted to kicking the child.
“We had a conversation, she sounded quite distressed in the call and unsettled,” the friend told the court on Friday.
The woman said the foster mother sounded “distraught” as she told her that she had kicked the child “really hard”.
The woman further described the foster mother as a “loving, caring” parent.
“And you found her to be a person with a strong sense of right and wrong,” the foster mother’s barrister John Stratton asked.
“Yes,” the woman replied.
William was only three years old when he vanished from his foster grandmother’s house at Kendall on the NSW Mid North Coast on September 12, 2014 in what has become one of the state’s most notable cold cases.
His body has never been found and no one has ever been charged over his disappearance and suspected death.
The court has heard that the couple continue to deny any knowledge of William’s whereabouts.