The “exceptionally rare” case of a man charged with the murder of his 18-year-old daughter more than 15 years after he assaulted her raises “significant legal issues”, his lawyer says.
Western Australia police say a 40-year-old Carnarvon man, Terrence John Bice, seriously assaulted his then two-year-old daughter, Teagan Jade Ferguson, in March 2005.
Teagan suffered a traumatic brain injury and developed chronic health conditions that “directly impacted her quality of life”, WA police said on Wednesday.
She was in palliative care from 2015 and died in Perth Children’s hospital in June 2020 aged 18.
Police now allege that the injuries Teagan received during the assault led to her death. Bice has been charged with murder.
Bice’s Perth barrister, Tom Percy QC, said that in his 40 years of practice as a criminal lawyer he could not recall a similar case.
“These types of cases are as rare as hen’s teeth,” Percy told Guardian Australia. “There are a multitude of legal issues which will undoubtedly play out as the matter moves forward.”
The WA Criminal Lawyers’ Association president, Anthony Elliott, said the “year and a day rule” would likely be argued in this case. Historically, a death could only be legally attributed to an action if the victim dies within a year of the alleged assault.
“What is crucial is whether the act in 2005 can be said to be the cause of her death,” he said.
A Murray Chambers criminal barrister, Linda Black, said that charging someone almost 17 years after an event was relatively rare.
Bice faced Carnarvon magistrates court on Tuesday. He is next due to face Stirling Gardens magistrates court on 19 January.