News

Boy, 11, beaten to death by dad

Horror at Australian cricket training ground

It was just a little cricket practice. There was people there. I believed he was safe.
- Madam Rosie Batty (above), 
mother of the boy who was killed 
by her estranged husband

Parents and children had gathered at a ground in a Melbourne suburb for evening cricket training.

Among the children was 11-year-old Luke Batty, who had arrived with his mother.

His father, Greg Batty, 54, who was estranged from the family, later turned up at the scene, Melbourne's Herald Sun reported.

As horrified parents and other children watched, Batty attacked his son with a cricket bat on Wednesday after practice.

Some reports said Luke was also stabbed, but it could not be confirmed.

The drama unfolded at the cricket ground in Tyabb, about 100km south-east of Melbourne.

It is a small community of about 3,000 people.

SHOT

Witnesses told the Herald Sun that the father turned on them with the knife, forcing one of the police officers to shoot him in the chest.

Four officers had confronted the man and tried unsuccessfully to subdue him with capsicum spray before he was shot.

Paramedics tried to save the boy, but he died at the scene from severe head injuries.

As the incident was broadcast, horrified Australians began posting tributes to the boy on social media.

An emergency services helicopter took Luke to hospital, but he died early morning yesterday.

The tragedy has left mother Rosie Batty, originally from Britain, traumatised.

She was just metres away when the attack took place, AFP reported.

She told reporters that her estranged husband had a history of mental illness and was the subject of an apprehended violence order, but it allowed him to visit the boy during his cricket training sessions.

"It was just a little cricket practice. There was people there. I believed he was safe," Madam Batty said, adding that there were no signs he would ever hurt their son, who was their only child.

She recounted: "Luke came to me and said, 'Could I have a few more minutes with my dad?'

"Because he doesn't see him very often and I said, 'Sure, okay'."

She said: "I'm still dealing with disbelief. I want to tell everybody that family violence happens to everybody."

Police commander Doug Fryer said there were multiple witnesses to the boy's death, including children and other parents, and they were being interviewed.

Flowers were placed at the scene yesterday by locals, who said they were stunned.

"How could you harm anyone, especially an 11-year-old boy?" Mr Taylor Cuthbertson, 15, told reporters, adding that a friend who saw the attack was having difficulty coping.

"He's really down. He's just completely empty," he added.

In a statement, the victim's school said it was bringing in counsellors and chaplains to help parents, students and staff cope with the tragedy.