The sister-in-law of a woman who was never in prison after murdering her newborn daughter and leaving her twins with lifelong disabilities says the “archaic” law needs to be repaired.
Tina Terlato once avoided spending a day in jail, despite the brutal abuse her twin daughters Alicia and Amanda had on her hands on Anzac Day night in 2012.
The girls were only eight weeks old when Tina attacked them and then carefully put them back in their beds.
The alarm only went off when their father Paul discovered that they were struggling to breathe hours later.
Amanda died of surgery at Royal Children’s Hospital that night, while Alicia will be severely disabled for life, despite tremendous progress in recent years.
For the past eight years, Alicia and Amanda have been known as ‘Baby N’ and ‘Baby M’, but their real names can now be used after a Victorian suppression order finally expired.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia about the horror her nieces experienced eight years ago, Michelle Terlato said she remains appalled that their mother has not spent time in prison.
When Alicia Terlato and her twin sister Amanda (pictured) were only eight weeks old, they were violently attacked by their mother. Amanda’s injuries were fatal, while Alicia will be disabled for life. Despite this, their mother Tina avoided any prison sentence – something the twins’ family believes should change
Tina Terlato (pictured) was charged with murder, but instead pleaded guilty to a count of infanticide and was sentenced to a 12-month community correction. Her former sister – in – law, Michelle Terlato, has called on the Victorian government to take the
In the hours after Amanda’s death, while Alicia was in critical condition, the Victorian police took both Tina and Paul Terlato to their office on St Kilda Road for questioning.
They eventually charged Tina with murder, but instead pleaded guilty to a single count of infanticide and another of hitting reckless injuries.
After a diagnosis of post-natal depression was taken into account, she received an order for community correction.
Still, it did not impress the twins’ family, who described the phrase as “pathetic.”
“We asked the DPP to appeal and they agreed that the sentence … was ‘on the mild side’, but after a while they wrote and said they had not, because none woman in Victoria had ever been jailed for infanticide, “said Michelle.
We believe that the lives of babies and children don’t count that much.
Michelle Terlato on the child murder law
“We as a family believe that the lives of babies and children don’t count that much.
“I feel justified saying this because I am a woman – I feel it is difficult for men to say this because they are just shot because they are a man – but I think infanticide is a very sexist and archaic law.
“It was nicely brought in to protect women with babies who were unmarried and shunned by society hundreds of years ago, or who had no choice but to kill their newborn.
“There is certainly no excuse nowadays for feeling that you are in that position, not for having the support and care to take care of a newborn.
Alicia Terlato now smiles, walks and talks just like any other girl her age, eight years after a horror attack at the hands of her mother Tina. The vicious attack left Alicia with serious injuries, which will leave her disabled for life and going to hospital almost weekly
Alicia’s father Paul (pictured) was told that his surviving daughter would probably be in a wheelchair for life, but she “has defied the odds.” Mr. Terlato also praised his son Luke (left), who he says is “older than his years” and helped his sister’s development tremendously
“We have fought very hard for the Victorian government to look at the law on infanticide and possibly scrap the law, we really feel it is no longer appropriate.
“Women scream for equality, but when it comes to things like this, they don’t want it … well, you can’t have it either way.”
It’s been a long road to recovery for Alicia, who, despite being told to spend her life in a wheelchair, is now on the run for the first time.
She now attends a regular primary school and while her disability stays with her for a lifetime, she only needs to use a walker when she is tired.
Alicia’s father Paul stood by his daughter’s side every step of the way.
He said that after his daughter went through a real ‘horror movie’, his daughter is now ‘doing great’.
“She defies my little girl’s chances, she beat everything,” he said.
“They said she wouldn’t talk and walk or see, and she does all that plus something.
“It’s still hard, but I’m lucky to have Luke (her brother) because for a 10-year-old he’s very mature for his age and can help with a lot of things, too.”
It would be an understatement to say that Paul is proud of his daughter.
She enjoys going to Melbourne Victory games with her father and brother, talking to her friends online, and is excited to go back to school to see them in person.
Alicia is currently in the second grade of a regular school in Melbourne and is getting closer to running every day
Tina Terlato (pictured with Essendon Bombers stars Orazio Fantasia and David Zaharakis) has been allowed to lead a normal life since the accident and still has access to her children
More recently, a pre-coronavirus cruise vacation with her father and brother was one of the greatest highlights of her life to date.
“The last vacation we had was 2015 to Queensland, but Alicia really doesn’t remember because he was way too young,” said Paul.
“But they won’t forget these. It was fantastic.’
Alicia’s disability means a lot of work for Paul, who as a single parent put his children firmly in front of him.
Although he says that some people urged him to go on vacation alone, it was never on the table.
“I’m not one of those people who always hand kids over to grandparents or a caregiver for a night out or going to a pub – I can’t,” said Paul.
Paul and his kids recently went on vacation on a cruise ship, something Alicia loved
“I can’t leave them at home and then I enjoy the holidays. We are a family, we must do things as a family. ‘
Incredibly, a court order means that Alicia and her older brother Luke are still visiting their mother.
It is something that makes their aunt very angry.
“The fact is that she’s having the child she tried to kill … can you imagine a rapist seeing the child he was trying to rape?” Michelle said.
“It just hurts my head, I can’t believe it.”
When sentenced, the Victorian Supreme Court judge Bernard Bongiorno listed her mental health problems as a determining factor.
While the exact mechanism of inflicting (Amanda’s) fatal injuries and inflicting the non-fatal but devastating injuries on (Alicia) is difficult to determine, it is clear that they were inflicted by a loving mother who suffers from significant emotional and psychological compromise, “said Judge Bongiorno.
“Her moral guilt … does not exist or is so low that it is negligible.”
Today, Tina lives a normal life in society and is a big fan of Essendon Bombers – she regularly poses for photos with the players.
The lifting of the repression order last year was also important to Paul, who feels that Amanda has been “hidden” since her death.
Although her father has high hopes that improvements in recent years will continue, he – and her brother – are determined to be next to her every step of the way, regardless of the future.
“The poor thing. Because everything had to be hidden under the order of oppression, it was almost as if she disappeared from the face of the earth, “said Paul.
“Now I can have a voice for her.
“I’m still a father of three, even if I only have two, I’ll always be a father of three.”
There are many difficult years for Alicia, but she will not do it alone.
Although her father has high hopes that improvements in recent years will continue, he is willing to be by her side anyway.
“Just like any other child, I want her to grow up happy and healthy, get married and have children, be independent and work,” said Paul.
“But if it doesn’t work out that way, I’m not worried.
“She can stay with me for the rest of her life. I am her father and nothing changes. ‘