Toddler's rape still haunts community a decade on
IT'S a 45-minute crime that has scarred an entire community for more than a decade.
So disturbing was the abduction and rape of a baby girl at Yarrabah, it sparked calls for a national inquiry into child abuse in indigenous communities.
It happened on August 17, 2002. The coastal township's population had swollen as there was a funeral and a 21st birthday party being held in town on the same night.
The girl, who was three days short of her second birthday, was abducted as she slept beside her six-year-old sister at her grandparents' home about 2.45am.
The offender carried her 500m along the road, then 100m through bushland, where he sexually assaulted her.
A group of women heard the toddler crying and confronted the man, who dropped her on the ground and fled.
"It was one of the most heinous crimes I've encountered," Cairns Child Protection and Investigation Unit Det Sgt Mark Bamford said.
"We're talking about a victim who can't walk, talk or defend herself."
Investigations at the time revealed little.
About 40 men and youths from the community voluntarily provided saliva swabs for DNA analysis but a match was not found.
The cold case review, dubbed Operation Drury, is being carried out by Sgt Bamford and colleagues from the Child Protection and Investigation Unit.
"It involves an examination of the investigation, for example, gathering all evidence from the initial investigation including statements and exhibits," Sgt Bamford said.
"A forensic review is conducted of the exhibits, including analysis of how the exhibits were previously analysed and current capabilities."
Advances in technology and science aside, a breakthrough is often dependent on people who have withheld critical details for years and then feel compelled to clear their conscience.
"Sometimes there is a change in circumstances that enables a witness to come forward with new or additional information that may progress the investigation," Sgt Bamford said.
"Someone might get a case of the guilts."
The case attracts a $250,000 State Government reward for informants who help police arrest and successfully prosecute the offender.
Anyone with information should call Cairns police on 4030 7000 or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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Case revisited: Sgt Mark Bamford is hoping for a breakthrough in the case involving the rape and abduction of a baby girl at Yarrabah toddler.