Former Australian athlete jailed for eighteen years for murdering her baby

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Former Australian water polo champion Keli Lane, 36, received an eighteen year prison term with a non-parole period of thirteen years and five months after being convicted of killing her two-day old daughter, Tegan.

The Sydney woman had been in custody since December when she was found guilty of her infant's 1996 murder, despite the fact the baby’s body was never found. Lane has repeatedly denied any guilt in the murder, maintaining she gave the baby to its biological father, a man she named as either Andrew Morris or Andrew Norris. Although there were extensive police searches, neither man has been located.

The trial took seventeen weeks.

Around 200 people were present in the New South Wales Supreme Court to watch Justice Anthony Whealy sentence Lane. In his two-hour sentencing remarks, Justice Whealy said he accepted the Crown's claim that Lane had deliberately killed her baby, whom he said had been murdered. "She must have found herself in a desperate situation and could see no way out," he said.

Justice Whealey said that Lane did not have a mental illness; rather she had a personality disorder that caused her to feel illogically trapped and isolated. He noted that it was not known how the child died, but said the murder was not premeditated but rather "spontaneous". He acknowledged that she was only 21 when the crime occurred and referred to the case as "the most profound tragedy" on multiple levels.

Noting that Lane had been rehabilitated and was now a "very different person", he said, "The testimonials demonstrate that Keli has a unique rapport and successful relationship with young children generally." The judge believed Lane posed no further threat to society and was unlikely to re-offend.