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Trial Begins Over The Death Of Bashed Toddler

The mother’s then-partner has been accused of beating the baby and hiding her in the roof cavity – but he insists the mother was responsible

Warning: This story contains distressing details.


In a tragedy fraught with conflicting stories, these are the police-reported facts:


  1. Nikki Francis-Coslovich, 2, was found dead at 5.15pm on August 25, 2015, discovered in the roof of her home in Victorias Mildura.


  1. The toddler was battered and bruised, and had lost one third of her body’s blood volume.


  1. An autopsy showed she died between 11am and 2.30pm. After being abused, she may have suffered alone for an hour before dying of fatal injuries to her kidney, liver and skull.


Yesterday, the man charged with her murder, 32-year-old John Torney – the ex-partner of Nickis mother, Peta-Ann Francis – faced a 14-member Supreme Court jury.


According to the prosecution, Torney was left alone with Nikki at her home while Francis ran errands on the morning of August 25. There was a four-hour window in which he could have killed the child.


Francis returned home at 12.30pm; she and Torney smoked cannabis, had sex and fell asleep. On awaking at 2.40pm, Francis realised her daughter was missing. At 3.16pm she called triple-zero.


The defence, however, claims that Francis murdered her own daughter. Standing outside her toddlers bedroom on that fatal day, she allegedly told Torney: Ive gone too far with Nikki, shes not breathing.


At the hearing, Torneys lawyer played a recording of Francis’s triple-zero call, in which she was unable to recall when she last saw her daughter.


The trial is expected to last three weeks.


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