Accused of starving twins to death

Last updated 00:00 27/07/2013

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A Brisbane mother accused of starving her toddler twins to death was a good mother and a beautiful person, friends and family members have testified.

The 35-year-old and her de facto partner have pleaded not guilty to murder in Brisbane's Supreme Court.

Their two youngest children lay dead from malnutrition in their room about a week before their 11-year-old daughter discovered them, in June 2008.

Police photographs revealed a cockroach-infested home with dirty dishes cluttering the kitchen and clothes piled high in the laundry.

Relatives and friends testified on Friday the family of eight had lived a normal life up until six months before the toddlers' deaths.

The mother had been kind, caring and a good parent - "a beautiful person", according to her partner's brother.

Her partner's sister described the accused woman as "caring and nurturing".

Witnesses said their house had been tidy and visitors were frequent.

When the parents discovered they were having twins "they were shocked at first but then they were excited," the woman's mother said.

The woman's cousin played dress-ups with the then one-year-olds in January 2008.

"They were happy, they were still chubby and they were quite content," the cousin told the court.

Things changed some time in the first half of 2008, when the woman withdrew almost completely.

Relatives and friends said they would drop by but no one would answer the door, though the woman's car was in the carport.

Calls, text messages, and emails went unanswered.

Those who did see her said she seemed busy or distant.

"She looked really run down," her cousin told the court.

"She looked like she didn't care about what she was wearing.

"I assumed her and (her partner) were having problems. I just didn't want to interfere."

The woman's mother said the couple were fighting about money and the toddlers' father's gambling.

She recalled her daughter saying on a couple of occasions she wished she had given the twins up.

"I just said to her, 'you're a wonderful mother and you always do a great job", she told the court.

When she last saw the toddlers sometime in March and April, the girl appeared fine but the boy seemed "drawn and clingy".

Their mother had assured her he was seeing a doctor.

But when she asked about their health later, her daughter was vague.

Days before the toddlers' bodies were discovered, she'd seemed very upset, she added.

"There was something she wanted to speak to (the father) about but I didn't know what it was. She just said, 'look mum I've got something I want to speak to (him) about. I really need to speak to him."

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Earlier the pathologist who examined the toddlers' bodies said they were grossly underweight and showed signs of decomposition consistent with having been dead seven or eight days.

A forensic police officer who examined the crime scene said tins of baby formula had been found in the house and empty feeding bottles in the toddlers' room.

The trial continues.

- AAP

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