Donna Deaves sat in the witness box, pale, and tried to explain why she left her seriously injured two-year-old daughter, Tanilla, lying in a pram for two days as the little girl's life ebbed away.
'Until you're in that position, it's impossible to say what it's like," the 29-year-old told her Supreme Court sentencing hearing on Thursday. "When you're shocked and frightened or scared it's really difficult to do anything."
Prosecutors allege that some time on August 25, 2011, Tanilla Warrick Deaves was severely beaten by a man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - at a house in Watanobbi on the central coast, and suffered severe head injuries.
In pleading guilty to manslaughter this year, Deaves admitted to witnessing the assault, and to leaving the toddler in her pram for the next 48 hours, failing to seek any medical attention until the early hours of August 27 when she finally called triple-0. The little girl died soon after.
When Deaves' barrister, John O'Sullivan, asked his client whether she loved her daughter, she replied: "Of course I did ... I should have stopped it."
Reading a victim impact statement to the court, Tanilla's biological father, Adrian Warrick said that on one of the few occasions he had been allowed to take Tanilla, she was bruised and malnourished.
Child welfare workers told him Deaves was fit to have custody of Tanilla, he said.
"Eight months later she is murdered ... I never saw Tanilla again until the day we buried her."
Mr Warwick described his daughter as "a happy, bright little girl" who "loved dressing up and was adored by her brothers and sisters".
"This is how I got my baby girl back - dead," he said.
"She left you there like you were nothing.
"We need to stop this happening to other Australian children. She doesn't have a voice - we are her voice."
He asked the sentencing judge, Justice Stephen Rothman, to "impose a lengthy sentence and ... to consider the violence perpetrated against her tiny body".
Mr Warwick also spoke of the guilt he feels and his inability to come to terms with his daughter's death.
"I could have saved my sweet little girl," he said.
"I can't live with what happened. I've been hospitalised twice. I'm a broken man. My life will never be the same again."
Donna Deaves will be sentenced on September 19.