Harley Hicks-baby killer gets life


 LEGAL Aid has funded an ­attempt to cut the 32-year jail sentence of baby killer Harley Hicks so he doesn’t feel ­“utterly helpless”.

Hicks beat 10-month-old Zayden Veal-Whitting to death in his cot with a copper-wire baton while high on ice during a June 2012 burglary.

He will learn on Wednesday at the Victorian Court of Appeal, sitting in Bendigo, if his bid is successful.


His lawyers claimed his jail term was “manifestly excessive”, saying his crime was not as heinous as other child killings as it was not premeditated, nor an act of revenge.

Zayden’s grieving mum, Casey Veal, slammed the decision to fund Hicks’ appeal as a “waste of taxpayers’ money”, saying it could be far better used on deserving Victorians.

Harley Hicks at Bendigo court.

Harley Hicks at court in Bendigo.

“They said in court he (Hicks) will be in his 50s when he gets out. My son never saw his first birthday. He’ll never have the chance to have a girlfriend or get married,” she said.

She is raising cash for a playground in Zayden’s memory.

Victorian Legal Aid’s funding of the appeal comes on top of tens of thousands of dollars used on legal fees at Hicks’ trial.

A Legal Aid spokesman said the body was prohibited from revealing information about anybody who had applied for funding, but it was the job of the organisation to “fund the representation of people charged with serious crimes and to make sure they are fairly treated by the justice system and our decisions must be made objectively”.

New changes to the appeals process come into effect in early March following a review published late last year.

“There will be tighter rules on appeals which go straight to hearing stage and appeals which claim that the sentence is manifestly excessive as the main reason,” he said.

But he said the changes weren’t backdated, and there would still be some appeals that had funding approved in 2014 that would be heard by the Court this year.

A spokeswoman for Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula acknowledged Legal Aid had promised to implement tighter scrutiny on funding for criminal appeals.

“We look forward to the VLA’s assessment of those new guidelines after they are implemented in March,” she said.

On Tuesday, Hicks was compared to child-murderers Arthur Freeman and Robert Farquharson in a bid to reduce his 32-year jail term.

Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye described Hicks’ actions as “totally and utterly evil” in handing down the non-parole period after a jury found the 21-year-old guilty of murder in April last year.

Casey Veal, the mother of slain Bendigo baby Zayden.

Casey Veal, the mother of slain Bendigo baby Zayden.

But barrister David Hallowes, acting for Hicks, told the Court of Appeal in Bendigo on Tuesday morning his client’s sentence should be reduced because of his age, his traumatic upbringing, and because the killing was “spontaneous and impulsive” rather than planned.

He also said there was an “absence of features of vengeance and premeditation that attend the comparable cases where children are victims of murder”.

Mr Hallowes said Freeman, who threw his daughter over the West Gate Bridge, and Farquharson, who drove his sons into a dam, had committed more heinous acts because they had planned acts of revenge.

“We say that is worse,” he said.

Both men, who were far older than Hicks when sentenced, were given similar sentences to the younger criminal for their acts.

But barrister Susan Borg, for the DPP, said Hicks’ actions were worse because it was a “cold, calculated killing of a baby for no apparent reason”.

Ms Borg said Hicks, who was absent from the courtroom, used a homemade baton to strike Zayden 33 times while the infant lay in his cot.

“When he is confronted with a child that is no threat to him at all, he used it on that child. Not once, not twice, but 33 times,” she said.

Zayden’s mother is traumatised by the grisly discovery of her battered and bloodied child under a blanket on the morning of June 15, 2012.

Hicks pleaded not guilty the murder and claimed he was never in the house.

Harley Hicks at Bendigo Court in 2014.

Harley Hicks outside the court in 2014.

Ms Veal sat calmly with family and friends towards the back of the packed courtroom on Tuesday.

His mother and brothers, including twin Ashley Hicks, sat in court behind Mr Hallowes during the Bendigo hearing.

Mr Hallowes also claimed that Justice Kaye aggravated the sentence upon finding there had been an absence of remorse.

During his sentencing remarks Justice Kaye said: “During the trial I took the opportunity to observe you in the dock. At no stage of the trial could I detect from you any sign of remorse.”

Mr Hallowes argued Hicks’ demeanour had never been raised during the plea hearing.

“Had it been raised, there may have been appropriate explanations given for the various affects over the course of the trial.

For example, evidence was put on the plea that the applicant was taking various forms of psychiatric medication during the case,” he said.

Hicks will be at least 52 by the time he is eligible for release.

A judgment will be handed down at 10am Wednesday.

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Harley Hicks trial: day by day

GALLERY: The Harley Hicks trial

Sentence will never end family’s pain: A look back and the trial and what couldn’t be told

10am: JUSTICE Stephen Kaye has begun addressing the Supreme Court as he prepares to deliver his sentence for baby killer Harley Hicks.

10.12am: Justice Kaye said what Hicks did in Zayden’s room when he killed him with considerable violence was clear ‘but what is unclear is why you did it’.

10.16am: Justice Kaye said the full account of the injuries to Zayden was harrowing to say the least.

He said he could only imagine the heartbreak of Zayden’s mother, Casey Veal, and those who loved Zayden.

10.18am: Justice Kaye said Hicks struck the fatal blows because he ‘specifically intended to kill him’.

10.23am: Justice Kaye said Hicks put up an innocent man as a false killer ‘in order to save your skin’.

10.24am: ‘Your offending places this case in the worst cases of murder that come before this court. The life of a baby is particularly special and precious. What you did was totally and utterly evil,’ Justice Kaye said.

10.28am: Justice Kaye said ‘You have shown no remorse for what you have done’.

10.33am: Justice Kaye said ‘At no stage of the trial could I detect from you any sign of remorse’.

Justice Kaye said he observed Hicks during the trial and he showed no indication of any pity for the baby or the family.

10.37am: Justice Kaye says of particular concern was Hicks’ criminal history and escalating violence.

‘There are other victims of your crime who have suffered and continue to suffer,’ Justice Kaye said.

10.40am: The English language is ‘entirely inadequate’ to describe their grief and anguish, Justice Kaye said.

10.41am: Justice Kaye quotes Zayden’s mother’s victim impact statement that says, ‘I miss Zayden each second of each day. Words cannot describe the pain I feel for both my sons.

‘I am serving a life sentence .. all I have is memories and most of them are tainted by this crime.’

Justice Kaye quotes father James Whitting’s impact statement:

‘The tragic and needless loss of my son Zayden devastated us all. I don’t even know where to begin to express the pain in my heart.’

10.43am: Justice Kaye says he quoted the statements to show the ‘indescribable grief and pain as a direct consequence of the crime’.

10.46am: Justice Kaye said Hicks used alcohol and drugs from a young age and methyl amphetamine on a regular basis since 2011.

10.48am: Justice Kaye says Hicks did not always comply with conditions ordering him to get help for his addictions.

10.51am: Justice Kaye said Hicks did not have a psychiatric disorder but his personal history showed he suffered behavioural disorders from an early age, compounded by his family life, sexual abuse and long standing abuse of alcohol and drugs.

10.52am: Justice Kaye says Hicks shows poor prospects for rehabilitation.

10.53am: ‘You are a danger to the community. Especially to the defenceless and vulnerable members of it’, Justice Kaye says.

10.54am: ‘There’s a real need to protect the community from you’, Justice Kaye says.

10.56am: ‘All human life is sacrosanct but the community places special value on the innocent and the lives who are young and vulnerable,’ Justice Kaye says.

11am:  ‘The primary victim of your crime was a helpless defenceless infant,’ but Justice Kaye says he must consider Hicks’ age.

11.01am: Harley Hicks sentenced to life in prison.

11.02am: Harley Hicks sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 32 years.

11.06am: Hicks has been removed from court.

File picture: Harley Hicks.

File picture: Harley Hicks.

Justice Kaye said Hicks ‘unleashed a ferocious attack on Zayden’ that night and the prosecution’s case was very powerful.

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks' sentencing today. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks’ sentencing today. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Extra security is in place outside the Bendigo court ahead of Harley Hicks’ sentence today.

Hicks, 21, of Long Gully, was found guilty by a Supreme Court jury in April of murdering Bendigo baby Zayden Veal-Whitting.

Hicks was out committing a series of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012, when he entered Zayden’s Eaglehawk Road home and bludgeoned the 10-month-old to death with a home-made baton.

More to come.

He was just a baby. A tiny, perfect little baby.

A baby growing too quickly into a little boy… but a little boy who was never given the chance to become one.

A little boy who had never celebrated a birthday. Never played in mud puddles or raced to the gate to greet his mum or dad after work.

Harley Hicks taken from court after the jury convicted him of murder in April.Harley Hicks taken from court after the jury convicted him of murder in April.

Read all about the the trial at the Bendigo Advertiser

He had taken his first few steps, but never run his first race. He hadn’t had much time to wrestle his brother, choose a favourite football team or line his parents’ walls with art.

He barely had time to live.

Zayden Veal

Zayden Veal Photo: Supplied

Because on one horrific night in June 2012, a monster entered his home and bludgeoned him to death.

The helpless, beautiful little boy was struck 25 times to the face and at least eight times to the head with a blunt instrument as he lay in his cot. The baby monitor was turned off in the minutes before or after the killing, and his blankets were placed up to his nose before his killer left him to die. He could have already been dead.

Weeks later, that instrument was found to be a home-made baton made of copper wire and electrical tape – and it was covered in the little boy’s DNA.

It was also covered in DNA that matched his killer.

Almost two years after 10-month-old Zayden Veal-Whitting was killed, Harley Hicks will this week be sentenced for his murder.

He is yet to tell the court why he stole the life of a helpless baby – and has shown no remorse for the brutal killing.

On the morning of June 15, 2012, Bendigo woke to a tragedy beyond comprehension.

What started as a report to police of a burglary at an Eaglehawk Road home was quickly followed by a desperate call to paramedics to help revive a child.  As investigators were called to the scene, tongues were already wagging and finding reasons to place blame. But blame in all the wrong areas.

Casey Veal had just found her beautiful little boy beaten to death in his cot. Her then partner Mathew Tisell heard her chilling scream and ran to help.

As Zayden was taken to hospital, police tape was put around his home on Eaglehawk Road. It became a crime scene.

Zayden’s father received a call to go to the hospital. He had no idea why, but the house where Zayden was staying with his mother and then stepfather was on the way. James and his mother Anne drove past the police tape. They had no idea what had taken place. No one did.

It was at the hospital James was told by a social worker she was sorry for the loss of his son. He was lost. Shattered. Confused. James still didn’t know what had happened, or which son had died.

Casey didn’t have the answers, other than what she had woken to find their baby bruised and limp.

Her house had been burgled and their son had been killed.

James knew neither Casey nor Matt were responsible for the death – but who was?

The microscope was on anyone who had any association with the Eaglehawk Road home.

But as the family came together in the hospital to learn the shocking and heartbreaking news, police started receiving reports of a number of burglaries in the Long Gully area on the night of Zayden’s death.

More reports would follow in the next few days.

There were similarities at many, including the burglary at Eaglehawk Road.

That was when police turned their attention to known offenders in the area – and their intelligence turned them to Green Street – the home of Harley Hicks.

An initial warrant allowed police to search for stolen goods by known thieves living at the address on June 17.

They were looking for goods stolen from properties throughout Bendigo and Long Gully on June 14/15.

Even the most experienced investigators were confronted by the filth they saw during that search.

But among the rubbish they found a set top box stolen from a property across the road from the Eaglehawk Road home where Zayden was killed, which put one of the occupants of the house in the area at the time of the burglaries and the death.

Each of the occupants was interviewed, but Hicks had already fled Bendigo, leaving for Gisborne the day after Zayden’s murder, a day earlier than planned.

The Victoria Police Homicide Squad believed Hicks was ‘merely a person of interest’ because he was a known burglar and stolen goods were found at his address, so they set about finding him.

Hicks was in Gisborne with his then-girlfriend Martina at that stage – searching the burglaries and the baby’s death on the internet. He had also cut up his tracksuit.

When Martina told him she had received a phone call to say the police were looking for him, Hicks fled. He spent the night at the Gisborne football oval, before phoning his father John Hicks the following day.

Police received information to say John was travelling to Gisborne to collect his son and return to Bendigo on June 19, so detectives set up an intercept at Big Hill.

It was there that Hicks was arrested, while hiding in the rear seat of his father’s car.

At that stage he was only a suspect for the burglary at Eaglehawk Road.

But it was from that moment, the pieces started coming together for investigators – and it was Hicks himself who gave it away.

He soon became a person of interest regarding the death of Zayden, but there was still nothing that put him in the house.

From the minute he was arrested on the Calder Highway, Hicks immediately put up a false killer. He started shooting off at the mouth, telling police from the outset he was with another man on the night of the burglaries. Naming an innocent man as being with him that night.

Over three days, Hicks told the story of being out that night with that man and parting ways when they got to Eaglehawk Road.

That man was arrested on June 19, but there was a problem with Hicks’ story. He had an iron-clad alibi. He was never out that night with Harley Hicks. He did not commit any burglaries and did not kill Zayden.

That information led police to a second search of the Green Street address.

This time they found a wallet reported stolen by Mr Tisell in a car outside the home of the Hicks brothers, which the occupants used for ‘storage’ – and, they found a baton. It was still some time before that baton was connected to the killing.

Throughout the trial, Hicks’ brothers tried to say that instrument was used as a dog’s chew toy, but there was no evidence a dog had been anywhere near it. Martina, however, had seen that baton hidden behind a picture frame. It was the murder weapon.

Hicks was not questioned over the murder, but on the morning of June 21, he offered a plea of guilty without admission to a series of thefts, burglaries and attempted burglaries overnight on June 14 and 15 – 11 matters in total, but excluding that at Eaglehawk Road.

He also pleaded guilty to 10 other offences relating to thefts and burglaries committed prior to that night.

Hicks was sentenced to 12 months’ youth detention.

Those pleas were excluded from the Supreme Court murder trial because Hicks’ defence successfully argued it would be unfair to have them admitted in circumstances where he pleaded guilty to avoid being remanded in custody in an adult prison.

Hicks told his legal team he didn’t want to go adult prison because of an allegation of sexual assault he had previously made against an inmate at Port Phillip Prison. He wanted the matter finalised that day so he would more than likely go into youth detention.

Hicks admitted an attempted burglary at 23 Duncan Street, a burglary at 30 Wilson Street and the theft from a vehicle in Jackson Street, where the set top box was stolen, but denied any involvement with the other offences that night at Dillon, Bray and Bolt streets and Havilah Road. His defence team said he pleaded guilty to all matters, knowing that if the matter was adjourned he would be remanded in adult custody because of outstanding matters before the court.

Hicks’ defence lawyer David Hallowes further submitted that if the pleas of guilty were admitted in the trial, his lawyer would need to be called as a witness and that would reveal that Hicks had previously spent time in an adult jail, which would be prejudicial to his client.

Crown prosecutor Michele Williams SC argued Hicks knew what he was doing and did not dispute or deny any of the allegations in the police summary. She said Hicks was familiar with the legal system having had previous court appearances in other criminal matters and was looking after his own interests.

In ruling against allowing the pleas of guilty to all matters during the murder trial, Justice Stephen Kaye said the decision was not clear cut as Hicks knew precisely the charges brought against him and there was no evidence of any misconception or misunderstanding.

But he said Hicks was a young man with a pressing reason for not wanting to return to adult custody and based on the admissions he had made during his interview with police, there was a strong likelihood he would have been given a custodial sentence.

Justice Kaye said Hicks’ lawyer at the time did not have sufficient information to properly advise her client as he had entered the guilty pleas so quickly after a three-day interview with police and the police brief had not been compiled.

He said there were significant questions as to the reliability of the pleas of guilty as truthful admissions by Hicks of his guilt and it seemed clear he pleaded guilty by way of expediency rather than because he admitted the allegations against him were true.

On June 21, 2012, Hicks was sent to a youth detention centre for the thefts and burglaries. But the investigation into the murder of a child continued.

Hicks by now was a suspect. He had put up lies about being with another man that night and a wallet belonging to Zayden’s then stepfather was found at Hicks’ address.

His three-day interview with police, and time spent in the holding cells with an undercover police operative, revealed information only the killer would know.

In the pre-trial arguments, Hicks’ defence team tried to have the record of interview excluded from the murder trial, but their request was denied.

Sitting in his office reviewing the evidence some weeks after Hicks was sent to youth detention, Detective Senior Constable Tony Harwood of the homicide squad compared baby Zayden’s injuries with a baton collected during a search of Green Street. It was sent for forensic tests. There was a match.

One end of the baton was covered in Zayden’s DNA – the other carried the DNA of Harley Hicks.

So too, did the stolen set top box – stolen from a property Hicks had admitted being at on the night of the killing.

On September 24, 2012, Harley Hicks appeared briefly in the Melbourne Magistrates Court charged with murder. He later entered a plea of not guilty.

When his first lie about a false killer didn’t work, Hicks turned to the DNA evidence as his defence.

The trouble with the DNA was that Hicks had an identical twin, and identical twins have identical DNA.

As that fact was told to the Supreme Court by a forensic officer, Harley winked at Detective Harwood from the dock. It was a glimpse of the cockiness shown during his record of interview with police.

But that argument only pointed further to his guilt.

Harley’s twin, Ashley Hicks, also had an alibi. Despite the defence team doing its best to ask the question as to just which twin killed the baby, Ashley’s alibi stacked up.

He was at home with his father that night. John Hicks supported his son’s story.

Ashley didn’t kill Zayden.

Harley Hicks did.

The court was told was that Hicks was out committing a series of burglaries overnight on June 14/15, 2012, when he entered 10-month-old Zayden’s home and killed him. No one knows why, but the prosecution put to the jury that it was possible the baby woke and Hicks needed to silence him to avoid being caught stealing from the house. He had ‘hit the jackpot’ Ms Williams said, finding almost $2000 in cash, and did not want to be detected.

Earlier in the night, Hicks told his brother Josh, Josh’s girlfriend Danielle and Martina he was heading out. Over his shoulder was a black bag. Josh said his brother always carried that shoulder bag. The same bag described by a couple who chased a man from their yard about midnight. The chase during which Hicks would lose his shoes.

Martina would later tell the court Hicks left twice that night, once to buy drugs, and later again.

The jury heard Hicks told police he was on the shard that night; crystal methamphetamine, known as ice.

But he said the man he was out with that night – the false killer he put up – had been using the methamphetamine ice and was “really, really aggressive … scary aggressive”.

The prosecution said Hicks was actually talking about himself.

But the jury couldn’t be told the extent of Hicks’ habit – and for how long he had been a drug user.

Hicks’ history includes years of repeated drug abuse, including cannabis, heroin, ecstasy, alcohol and ice.

Nor could the jury be told of his priors, which were escalating.

They knew Hicks was already on the run from police that night. Indeed, only three days earlier officers had gone to his home looking for him.

But the jury didn’t know Hicks had a long criminal history, which started at the age of 14, and included thefts, criminal damage, aggravated burglary and armed robbery.

The murder and series of burglaries and thefts were committed two months after Hicks was placed on a Community Corrections Order for armed robbery.

But on this night, Hicks was still stealing whatever he could from easily accessible places – glove boxes in unlocked cars, and houses.

The back door at Eaglehawk Road could not be locked.

But because his earlier pleas of guilty to those offences in the Magistrates Court, excluding the burglary at Eaglehawk Road, could not be admitted during the trial, Detective Harwood had to reinvestigate each one.

He needed fresh evidence during the Supreme Court trial – but led to a hiccup in proceedings.

The chase where he lost his shoes was pivotal. So too, were his movements afterwards – and just what was he wearing on his feet?

Martina reported Hicks was wearing a pair of motorcycle boots the day the pair left for Gisborne on June 15. She had never seen them before and they were far too big for him.

But the occupants at a house in Dillon Street burgled on June 14/15, 2012, knew the boots only too well, as they belonged to them.

But it wasn’t until a fresh statement was made by the Dillon Street occupants on March 13 this year that the boots were reported stolen that night. It was two weeks into the murder trial.

The prosecution then sought to have the boots admitted as evidence so the sole could be compared to a footprint on a couch in the rear yard of the Eaghlehawk Road home where Zayden was killed.

That new piece of evidence brought the trial to a standstill.

Sixteen prosecution witnesses had already been called and the trial was well-advanced.

A day was set aside for legal argument, during which the defence put to Justice Kaye that the evidence had come to light late in the trial and the prosecution had opened the case stating no link could be drawn between a mark on the couch, which had been pushed by the residents at the property against a fence, and the accused man.

Mr Hallowes said the prosecution had access to the boots before the trial and knew Hicks was wearing them from June 15 to 18.

He said had the boots been tendered as evidence earlier, the defence may have approached the case differently and cross-examined witnesses in another manner.

Justice Kaye agreed the evidence was produced late in the trial and whilst he accepted the statement from the Dillon Street resident might have prompted investigators to look at the link, there was sufficient evidence to draw the link beforehand.

In his ruling, Justice Kaye said it was “a pity this has come to pass’’.

“I am loathe, in a case like this, to shut out evidence of this type and I certainly do not wish to be critical but the fact is little new has emerged. The police had the boots in their possession, they had a cut out of the print, they had Martina Lawn’s evidence in relation to her understanding that the boots had been stolen that night and the matter was raised by Mr Hallowes at the committal. In addition, we had two weeks of pre-trial argument for the Crown to consider issues such as this. It is not my role to punish or criticise the prosecution, but in weighing up the fairness of excluding it, it is a factor that must be taken into account.

“Fundamentally,  my role is to ensure that the accused man receives a fair trial. In my view, as I have stated, there would be strong prejudice to the accused in the conduct of the trial if were to admit the evidence.

“No direction given by me could allay that prejudice before the jury. I am of the view that prejudice does outweigh any probative value of the evidence and so I have come to the inevitable conclusion that I must exclude it.’’

Few could argue Hicks wasn’t afforded a fair trial.

The law dictates all accused persons are entitled to the presumption of innocence – and that must be the starting point. It was up to the prosecution to prove Hicks guilty.

The ruling about the boots was made and the trial continued.

But at the same time, something changed.

In the early days of the five-week trial, Hicks took notes. Pages and pages of colour-coded scrawl. Some in red, other lines in blue. He seemed to be paying attention. But as the trial went into days and weeks, the notes slowly stopped. His attention was sporadic and on one occasion, he could be heard snoring in the dock. A break in proceedings was called before the jurors picked up on his nap – but there’s no doubt some would have noticed.

This jury was astute. The prosecution, defence and Justice Kaye spoke several times of the particularly careful and observant group that formed the jury.

A jury charged with the responsibility of a harrowing trial. A jury charged with taking everything in.

And they did.

They would have known each time Hicks started shaking – a shake of the leg that became louder and louder each time evidence linking him to the murder was put before the court. The shaking alone told a powerful story – he was nervous, and more so at certain times. They would have noticed.

And they certainly noticed the antics of Hicks’ supporters in court. The interaction between Hicks and his brother in the witness box, which attracted a caution. The note-taking by Hicks’ fiancee,  who followed witnesses from the courtroom – actions that came close to having her found in contempt of court.

They would not have known about the stern warning given by Justice Kaye to Hicks’ mum about posting photos of her son in the dock on Facebook – but that would have been the exception.

This jury didn’t miss a trick, and there were a few of them.

But importantly, they never lost a sense of why they were there – and that was to deliver a verdict in a trial involving the horrific, violent death of a baby.

They listened to, and considered, every piece of evidence. They questioned. They asked for breaks when everyone grew tired. It was exhausting.

But they also watched a family sitting in the courtroom in the hope of justice being served for their beautiful little boy. They were told to separate emotion and look at the facts, which they did. But there was no doubt they were well aware of the trust Zayden’s family put in them to do that properly.

Little Zayden’s family attended court every day. Their heads would fall every time a new piece of distressing evidence was put to the court, but their strength kept them there.

No one in court could ever properly express just how brave that family was.

The brave mother who told her story of finding her baby beaten to death in his cot.

The last time she saw her son alive was when she gave him a bottle and helped him re-settle. He had a cold and needed some medication.

The next day her little boy’s injuries brought the most hardened police and paramedics to tears.

A brave father and his partner who never got to hold their little boy and say goodbye. Who listened to every word said to defend their son’s killer.

A father who remembers a little boy who only a day before he died said the word dad for the first time.

Grandparents equally heartbroken and robbed of the love of a small child who was their world.

The pain of the trial ended for them when the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Today, Justice Kaye will hand down his sentence.

The legal process will be over. Hicks will be sentenced for his heinous crime.

But there will never, ever be justice for baby Zayden, or those who loved him.

This tragedy does not end with Zayden’s death. It does not end with a verdict, or a sentence. It will ever end for those he is survived by. Their pain will never, ever end.

The Harley Hicks trial – the case day by day


Supreme Court trial begins

A BENDIGO baby was struck at least 25 times to the head and killed with a home-made baton during a burglary at his Long Gully home, the Victorian Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here


Mother tells of moment she found her baby covered in blood

THE mother of a Bendigo baby bludgeoned to death in his cot has told the Supreme Court of the harrowing moment she found her son limp and covered in blood. Read full story here


Twin brother says he was at home on night of Bendigo baby murder

THE twin brother of accused man Harley Hicks says he was at home the night baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was killed and did not commit the murder. Read fully story here 

Mum’s partner says he ‘loved those boys’

THE partner of Casey Veal has told the Supreme Court he loved Ms Veal’s children and did not kill baby Zayden. Read full story here


I saw baton in Harley’s bedroom: Witness

THE older brother of Harley Hicks has told the court he saw a baton on the floor of the bedroom of the accused man several days after baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was found bludgeoned to death in his cot. Read full story here


Hicks trial hears of backyard intruder

Accused seen leaving house wearing grey hoodie and carrying bag. Witness tells of backyard intruder. Read full storyhere


Questions raised about twin’s alibi

QUESTIONS have been raised about the alibi of the twin brother of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting on the night of the child’s death. Read full story here 


Hicks trial: Twin brother was home that night, court hears

THE twin brother of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was at home on the night of the child’s death, the father of Harley and Ashley Hicks has told the Supreme Court. Read full story here

Weapon was not focus of search

POLICE were not looking for a murder weapon the first time they searched the residence of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting, the Supreme Court has heard. Full story here


Ex girlfriend was too scared to tell police what she saw

THE former girlfriend of the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting has told the Supreme Court she was too scared to tell police what she saw in the days that followed the baby’s death. Full story here


Stolen wallet links to baton

A WALLET and identification cards belonging to the stepfather of baby Zayden Veal-Whitting were found in a car at the home of the man accused of the child’s murder, the Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here


Court hears Hicks tell of burglaries and ICE

THE man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting told an undercover police officer he had been on ICE and was committing burglaries the night the child was killed. Full story here

DNA on baton matches accused man

A HOME-MADE baton alleged to be the weapon used to kill a 10-month-old baby was found carrying DNA matching the man accused of the murder, the Supreme Court has heard. Read full story here


No blood on baton: expert

A HOME-MADE baton which prosecutors allege was used to bludgeon a baby to death did not have traces of blood, a court has heard. Full story here


Defence questions search

THE defence counsel of the man accused of murdering Long Gully baby Zayden Veal-Whitting has questioned how thoroughly police searched for a murder weapon. Full story here


Detective links baton with baby’s injuries

THE detective  responsible for the investigation into the killing of Zayden Veal-Whitting says the discovery of a home-made baton alleged by the Crown to be the murder weapon was a “chance finding’’. Full story here

Crown gives closing address in Hicks trial. 

THE Crown is giving its closing address in the Supreme Court in the hope of proving beyond reasonable doubt the accused man Harley Hicks killed baby Zayden Veal-Whitting. Read full story here


Crown says case is ‘jigsaw’

PROSECUTORS have told a Supreme Court jury the case against the man accused of murdering Long Gully baby Zayden Veal-Whitting is like a jigsaw puzzle. Read full story here


‘False killer’ story is about Hicks, Crown says

THE crown says a story made up about a ‘false killer’ by the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting was actually his own story. Full story here

Hicks jury asked to put aside prejudice

THE jury has been asked to put aside any prejudice against the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting and judge the case against him on the evidence. Full story here


Hicks told lies to protect: defence

A SUPREME Court jury has been asked to consider the possibility Harley Hicks told lies to protect someone else, possibly his twin brother. Read full story here


Defence says baton was murder weapon

LAWYERS defending the man accused of murdering baby Zayden Veal-Whitting have ruled out the child’s stepfather as a possible ‘other’ for causing the death – but have put to the Supreme Court that Harley Hicks is covering for someone. Read full story here


Hicks defence says evidence doesn’t fit

THE defence team representing Harley Hicks says there are five key pieces evidence that don’t fit with the prosecution’s case the accused man killed Zayden Veal-Whitting. Read full story here


Harley Hicks found guilty of murder. Full coverage here

Hicks guilty of baby murder. Read story here

A liar, a thief and a killer

Hicks’ mum breached judge’s order

Woman cautioned in Hicks trial for following witnesses out of court

Jury asks questions about Hicks coaching brother in witness box

EDITORIAL: Thoughts are with Zayden’s family.

Zayden’s family tells of heavy hearts

THE family of Zayden Veal-Whitting doesn’t want to live in a world of hate – but that intense and deep emotion blankets them because of the “monster’’ who killed their little boy. Read full story here

The plea hearing

Crown calls for life sentence for baby killer in plea hearing in the Supreme Court.

Mother’s plea to drug users

Mother of baby Zayden Veal-Whitting wants son’s killer to stay behind bars for life … and makes plea to ice users to think of her little boy and give up the drug. Read full story here

Hicks to be sentenced

Harley Hicks will be sentenced on June 13. Full story here


GALLERY: The Harley Hicks trial

GALLERY: The committal

GALLERY: The trial

GALLERY: Exhibits tendered during the trial

14 thoughts on “Harley Hicks-baby killer gets life

  1. Well, I don’t think I could have summed up Hicks any better than the words of the magistrate when sentencing this sub-sapien to 32 years for this inhuman crime. I could add ‘worthless, sociopathic, psychotic, neanderthal, pathetic, useless, hopeless, brain-dead, etc’ but what’s the point. He’s going to prison and he is going to die there. And until then he is going to suffer. For his the unacceptable crime. The line-crosser. A man without conscience or honor. A man now without a splinter of respect. He is less than zero. In the cruel unnecessary world of Hicks, this almost seems the inevitable to conclusion to a life that culminated in an act so barbaric, predatory and inhumane, torment and vilification and degradation in the prison system is the only justice, that seems fitting his crime. He is a dead man walking, and soon he won’t be walking. There goes the short pointless life of Harley Hicks. Baby Murderer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have seen the worst of notorious killers, rapists, pedos, and low life Dog, back n Pentridge an it would take and evil piece of shit, to be worse than Paul Denyer, The Bega girl Murders and Peter Dupas, but this low life, has just made it to the top of my list. 30 Times Harley Hicks, based that innocent baby with a homemade, copper wire batton, what more worse can a evil crim do than that. And being under ICE, I no excuse as his defence barrister, tried to get him off with.
    So enjoy life in prison with a 32 year minimum, you Maggot, Justice has for once prevailed!


  3. The same judge Stephen Kaye that sentenced Adrian Earnest/Edwards Bayley for Jill Meaghers rape and murder.. Thanks Justice Kaye, this is the kind of sentences that the Families of Victims of violent heinous crimes have been waiting for. The judges to hand out these life sentences again to the worst criminals. Justice has for once again been served!………………………………


  4. He will be claimed this peice of rotten meat its only a matter of time he wont make it inside hes a wasted blot on society his mother and father spawned an evil mistake. His parents should prepare their finances for his burial because sooner or later hes gonna be 6ft under and Im sure they both would agree that its the best place for him.The devil will work against him now and will direct him through the gates of hell hes in for one hell of a ride this filthy peice of shit.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yes Reagan, I do hope so, but take note, how fat he is now, and compare him to when he was first arrested two years ago. The bleached hair style, the slim, body. Now he is like a ogre with glasses. Fuck he must be getting fed well in Protection jail. This low lubberly young toe rag, is much like that evil ,fat cane toad Camerilli, that murdered The Bega girls and Prue Bird. He has been in Protection lock-up for years and look how well , prison is feeding him. he was once bashed to near death in prison, but was moved to a more high security prison. Back in H.M. Pentridge Prison : H.Division in the 1960,s, the screws used to stave the inmates, and they were only given bread and water. How prison has changed, scum bags like this” Harley Hicks, Adrian Bayley, Peter Dupas, Camerilli, Paul Denyer, John Myles Sharpe, Robert Farquharson, Arthur Freeman,” they all keep putting on the weight inside. These rotten evil mongrels are safer in protection jail, than out on the streets. Harley Hicks will be in his fifties , if he ever gets out, but the baby boy Zayden, he cold bloodedly bashed to death in a rage with that homemade copper wire batton, has caused a life sentence to the babies Mother Casey Veal and Father Mathew Tisell and Brother Xavier, his poor Grandparents and all Families and friends concerned and all the General public as well. And the baby Zayden is gone forever!. Death is final, they cant ever be replaced or brought back..Just makes you feel so angry and powerless by the innocent life so preciously taken by all these odium takers of beautiful lives ,by these growing number of scum bag , maggot evil, violent prisoners. And they keep continuing to live on for years and years, some even serve their long sentences and get released back to freedom, to get back on with their lives, like that worthless coward of Baby Daniel Valero, his killer” Paul Aiton,” and one of the Anita Cobby rapist, murderers,” a Murphy Brother”!. Now living Free!….This really sucks, something shocking, that these” KILLER – CREEPS” , sometimes get another shot at freedom!..
    Because I doubt very much the likes of this Harley Hicks, Adrian Bayley, if they were not in protection, would survive for very long. On the streets, someone would get to them! If these shit bags didn’t have there 32 and 35 years, protection sentences locked away from the community. I would think that if they were to be set free, someone would hunt them down, and carry out poetic justice on them.!.. Lets us hope there is a lynch mob waiting for them, when they drop their guard in jail!…………………………………..That poor innocent little Brother Xavier of murdered Zayden.
    He will carry the torture of the loss of his baby brother for life, as did young Daniel Varlero’s now grown up Brother. Paul Leslie Aiton and Harley Hicks, deserve a special agony in the gates of hell for them. It would be good if Prison could be that hell for Harley Hicks. As- for that now free
    Paul Aiton, lets hope he will reap what deserves one day. And hell is waiting for him!……………….


  6. How true P.O you hit the nail on the head I was taken back at how frigin different its transformed into a fat fuck they sure did fatten this one up yeah just like the other freaks.It really is disgusting that they are fed so well so true it makes the people like us that care about the victims frustratingly furious. They are not being punished thats just like rewarding these bastards a chocolate tim tam shouldnt pass their frigin fucked up lips but it does and its so unfair. I hope your reading this Paul Aiton you bag of shit theres people out there that know your whereabouts and you have no idea so dont waste your time wearing those useless sunglasses you yellow backed coward your time will come you son of a bitch.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I suspect, Reagan – that maggot baby killer” Paul Leslie Aiton,” is now been givin a new name from Corrections Victoria, and a secret location to get on with his worthless rotten maggot puss filled carcass of a life, as if all has been forgotten about what he did more than 20 years ago to innocent Baby Daniel Varlero. = One of the worst crimes ever committed and AITON gets only 19 years on protection ! This maggot should have his current picture all over Australia and up on the entrance to the town or place where ever he is living or hiding at. I cannot under stand how he didn’t get a life sentence, only 19 years, and I further cannot grasp the fact at how the rotten useless PAROLE BOARD & CORRECTIONS VICTORIA, ever could have granted this low life shit bag Paul Leslie Aiton a get out of jail free card on Parole for good behaviour in protection jail. in the first place, he should still be rotting in jail!…. It just makes me so outraged. I bet Daniel Valero’s older brother now who is a adult getting on in age, would like to get his hands on this filthy turd Paul Aiton. The stupid thing is if Daniel Varlero’s older brother was to take vigilante justice into his own hands and carry out revenge, which I couldn’t blame him at all one bit!…….. The Justice system and judge would probably sentence him to life in jail for being a vigilante……… did you ever watch the film Death Sentence – Starring Kevin Bacon, This is what would be good to happen to Paul Aiton, and who the hell would care. Its a bloody good movie on the carrying out of poetic justice on evil killers of innocent people, I recommend it!…. I just hope that one day Paul Aiton, bumps into The Boogie Man, tourtures him like he deserves for what he did to innocent Daniel Varlero. This mongrel of a evil devil of a man, needs a lesson that it is not acceptable to bash, harm , torture or kill innocent children. Paul Aiton who never got his justice served on him, while in jail on protection….. It would be good if some current photos of him could be put on his Aussie Criminals profile page, so that all the public and community could see who this now protected hiding beast now looks like. I wish him nothing but the worst this current life can bring him, because he made Daniel Varlero,s older brother and family forever FUCKING HELL!…..”.Paul Leslie Aiton,” or whatever his protected name is now, should be to frightened to show himself in public, the oxygen thief innocent life taker!……….Cheers Reagan , very..well written. Justice is so bloody unfair sometimes! One more thing I have heard that this young” HARLEY HICKS”, Baby Killer is a cocky smart arse when he was out of jail, and is still a smart arse, cocky toad in protection jail! He acts on like he thinks he is still innocent. , so do his fucked up stupid family, they think he is innocent, and they will try to appeal his sentence….. He has already slashed up his arm in jail, that’s why it was all bandaged up during his trial.. He is under suicide watch,in jail…. He didn’t do a good enough job, should have cut his throat!….. Any way at least he will have a long time in jail, and it wont be easy for him as a baby killer amongst the other prisoners.. HE WILL GET A HARD TIME, EVEN IF HE IS ON HIGH PROTECTION! – HE WILL HAVE TO WATCH HIS BACK, FOR AT LEAST 32 YEARS!…………….

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I noticed Harley Hicks was a very cocky prick when police were interveiwing him he did clearly appear like hed done nothing we can only hope a tough nut inside will kick and punch the cockiness out of this ugly four eyed fuck and as for Aiton I heard the pathetic baby killer lover wife of his he was allowed to marry in prison has a storage business they can run but they cant hide and it just goes to show Daniel has not been forgotton. To the adult parole board and corrections vic who released him you are a disgrace you are a useless group of faceless arseholes that let that little boy down and caring more for the welfare of the killer I hope you all rot in hell asap there are no words harsh enough for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Im ashamed to have ever been a Prison Officer, with what I now know what has been going on for years with the Victoria Adult and juvenile Parole Boards and The Victorian Prison Service, Corrections Victoria. And do you want to know the latest appointment to Corrections, Victoria, in these times of Government budget cuts to the Un-employed Battlers and Pensioners. Corrections Victoria, have vacancies for payed Criminal Social workers and Psycho Professionals, with big salarys from $ 78.000 up to $ 99.000 EACH. Funny how the Government can always find the money to employ these professionals to help rehabilitate the CRIMS. This pisses me off something shocking.
    And to think our hard working AMBO,s and HOSPITALS are un-resourced and under funded the Ambulance Officers are being burned out!…. .Not enough Ambulances – Not enough Ambulance Stations, Hospitals Budgets being cut…..The first and only thing the Government should be cutting are the PRISONS and services to the rotten CRIMS!


  10. Its all a big shambles whats going on its bordering on corrupt I called the adult parole board and was very polite I just asked a few questions calmly and the woman that answered the phone became defensive and hostile and rudely hung up on me. So that goes to show they are not professional enough to listen to what I wanted ask them. Some of the media are becoming defensive and insecure about whos got a story they had in there paper circulation figures must be down big time and the honest public out there are being gagged when we speak up look what happened to Derryn Hinch the truth hurts and most of the time we are kept from knowing whats really going on. A new prison just been completed in trugunnina mellbournes west with a billiard table, gym and a tv in every room with free to air. One of the P.O said its all part of the prisoners reabilitation ha what a sad joke no wonder Ex P.O your annoyed I dont blame you life inside for scum is just getting better and the people that work there now sound like their weirdly programmed and trained to be passive sympathsisers that probably have a cert 2 in counselling at tafe.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Spot on their Reagan, – Just have a look at the new adds on t.v. advertising for heaps of new crim- lover Prison Officers. And by the very Liberal/ National Governments, that are telling us public citizens that we have to tighten our belts and the age of entitlement is over! The smug arseholes care more about the rehabilitation and creature comforts of criminals, than the pensioners, low income workers – battlers and homeless people in our society today!………These comfortable new prisons are a disgrace. They should be held in the old conditions of H.M.Pentridge, the crims don’t deserve such new millions of dollar country clubs as jails!…………..Go and read the lounge room conversations that I am having with some once notorious prisoners that served real hard time in Pentridge jail. This is how corrupt the prisons back in my day were, and no doubt still are.
    I did not know even this corruption in Victoria Prisons was on such a big scale!……..There should be a Royal Commission into Victoria Prisons- Corrections Victoria and the Adult Parole Boards incompetence over many long years up to the present happenings!……Even former Prisoners would gladly expose the corruption and brutality of the Correction Victoria hierarchy!………………..


    Baby Killer HARLEY HICKS , 22, will remain in prison until he is at least 52 after his appeal was thrown out of court yesterday at The Court of Appeal’s held in Bendigo Court House.

    Full detailed report can be read in the Lounge. Justice has been served, a big thankyou to Appeal Court Judge – Justice David Ashley. This means a lot to Victims of violent crime, that this man will now serve 32 years in Prison. This is what the average community expect for this type of crime, more truth in sentencing for heinous crimes by criminals.


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