TRAGEDY: Murder victim Kate Beveridge, 2, was taken from her Maryborough home, murdered and sexually assaulted.
TRAGEDY: Murder victim Kate Beveridge, 2, was taken from her Maryborough home, murdered and sexually assaulted. Contributed

TRUE CRIME: How M’boro toddler’s brutal murder changed law

THE shocking abduction and murder of a Maryborough toddler 25 years ago left an indelible mark on Queensland's legal system.

Kate Beveridge was just two years old when she was brutally murdered at the hands of a 16-year-old boy on May 31, 1994.

The teen killed the toddler by swinging her by the ankles and repeatedly hitting her head on the floor, the Courier-Mail reported.

He then sexually assaulted the tiny girl.

Her body was later found in long grass near a railway line about 150m from her home, according to newspaper reports at the time.

The girl's par­ents, who were both deaf, did not hear their daugh­ter's killer break into their home.

Her killer was sen­tenced to 14 years in prison - the max­i­mum sen­tence for a ju­ve­nile of­fender at the time.

At the time Carl Beck­man, Kate's un­cle, said the tod­dler's killer should have got "20 or 30 years or a rope around his neck".

Dur­ing sen­tenc­ing, Jus­tice Glen Wil­liams de­scribed the killing as "one of the most hor­ren­dous crimes I have seen in my years on the bench".

Jus­tice Wil­liams said his im­pres­sion of the teenager dur­ing his trial in Mary­bor­ough in 1996 was that he had shown no re­morse.

He said if a life sen­tence had been avail­able un­der the Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Act, he would have im­posed it.

"Life would be more ap­pro­pri­ate for your case than many con­victed mur­der­ers I have had to sen­tence to life," Jus­tice Wil­liams said.

Jus­tice's Wil­liams was not alone in his think­ing.

The un­think­able tragedy helped spark a re­view of the Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Act in the Queens­land Par­lia­ment, which led to an amend­ment al­low­ing for life im­pris­on­ment of ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers in par­tic­u­larly heinous cir­cum­stances.

Jus­tice Wil­liams said the crime was viewed as be­ing more se­ri­ous given the dis­abil­i­ties of Kate's par­ents, Ron­ald and Lor­raine, who were both pro­foundly deaf and mute.

He said they had made great sac­ri­fices to give their child what they could in life.

Den­ver Bean­land, the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral at the time, said un­der the pro­vi­sions of the Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices Act, the teenager could be el­i­gi­ble for pa­role af­ter serv­ing half his sen­tence.

He said Kate Bev­eridge's mur­der had been "ex­traor­di­nar­ily bru­tal" and demon­strated the lack of sen­tenc­ing op­tions for judges deal­ing with se­ri­ous and vi­o­lent ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers.

At the time he said the mea­sures were tough but fair.

"The pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment de­clared ju­ve­niles un­touch­ables," Mr Bean­land said.

"Po­lice were frus­trated in their abil­ity to act and of­fend­ers laughed at the law when they walked away with a slap on the wrist."

Kate's killer had a long crim­i­nal his­tory of ag­gres­sion and vi­o­lence and had twice es­caped from ju­ve­nile jus­tice cen­tres.

The Ju­ve­nile Jus­tice Act has since been re­placed by the Youth Jus­tice Act, a pro­vi­sion of which still al­lows for judges to hand down a max­i­mum sen­tence of life im­pris­on­ment for ju­ve­nile of­fend­ers.

Kate was buried at Pol­son Ceme­tery at Point Ver­non and her fa­ther Ron­ald, at the age of just 43, was later buried there with his daugh­ter.

TRAGEDY: Kate Beveridge, 2, was murdered in Maryborough 25 years ago.
TRAGEDY: Kate Beveridge, 2, was murdered in Maryborough 25 years ago. Contributed
The grave of two-year-old Maryborough toddler Kate Beveridge, who was brutally murdered 25 years ago.
The grave of two-year-old Maryborough toddler Kate Beveridge, who was brutally murdered 25 years ago. Contributed