Mother charged as baby’s cause of death emerges
A BABY found dead with bite marks, burns and bruises on his tiny body died from an ice overdose - possibly caused from ingesting his drug-addicted mother's breast milk, police allege.
Little Makavelii "Maka" Leoni tragically died in September last year with his "sweet, innocent-looking" mother Lina Marie Daley, 21, claiming he had drowned in the bath.
But Daley was yesterday charged with the torture and manslaughter of her toddler after police forensic tests allegedly found lethal levels of the highly toxic and illicit party drug "meth" in his system.
The 13-month-old was found dead - with bite marks, bruises, burns and grazes on his body - in a known drug den in White Rock last year with police alleging his mother was breastfeeding the infant and going on wild drug-fuelled binges on an almost daily basis.
Documents exclusively obtained by Cairns Post show the young mum had tested positive for ice, speed, ecstasy, MDA and cannabis.
The mother-of-two has also been charged with drug trafficking, drug possession and one other charge.
"It's always a tragedy when a child is involved,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Mick Gooiker, head of Cairns Child Protection and Investigation Unit, said. "This was a very young child. It's hard on the families, the emergency responders and the community.''
Paramedics were called to a house in suburban White Rock where they found the "unresponsive" infant had stopped breathing and gone into cardiac arrest about 9am on September 24 last year.
His hysterical mother initially claimed he had "drowned in the bath".
It is understood police will allege the tiny tot had a fatal reaction after consuming a deadly amount of the potent drug, methamphetamine.
He was allegedly put into the bath to try to flush the drugs out of his system as he went into a spasm of seizures.
Daley, who has a long history of illicit drug abuse, was still breastfeeding the infant and allegedly sold bags of ice to fund her addiction as part of the loose network of the criminal underbelly in Far North Queensland.
It is unclear if he died from swallowing a chunk of ice from a stash left lying about the housing commission home, where other drug addicts and children lived, or if his death was a build-up of drugs from being breastfed by Daley.
He also had many bruises and bite marks on his body, a graze to the left temple of his head, and a possible burn mark on his forehead, it is alleged.
In a "lengthy and complex" investigation, detectives from Cairns Child Protection and Investigation Unit yesterday arrested and charged Daley in Townsville where she appeared before court on the manslaughter, torture and drug-related charges.
His grandmother Charlie Thomas and aunt Emily Thomas, family of Maka's father Brendan Leoni, yesterday wept uncontrollably as police confirmed he'd "died of a methamphetamine overdose".
"We just want to see justice for little Maka,'' his grandmother said. "Maka never had a hope. No child deserves to die in such a way.''
His aunt Emily, who used to babysit Maka, told how "his eyes were always sparkling, he was so gentle, so happy".
"But now I'm thinking he was off his head, technically. It was too much for a tiny little baby, how could he possibly handle it?"
She spent yesterday with detectives at Cairns Police Station going over her witness statement.
Child Safety documents exclusively obtained by Cairns Post showed concern about how Daley treated Maka.
"Ms Daley has been unable to explain the events leading up to Makavelii's death. Makavelii was in Ms Daley's care immediately prior to his death," it said.
"There are concerns that Ms Daley may not have adequately supervised Makavelii and that he may have been left in the care of persons who were unsafe."
Daley is due to reappear in Cairns Magistrates Court on Tuesday.