Prosecutors drop murder charge against 12-year-old girl

Tara Cosoleto |

Prosecutors successfully applied in court to withdraw a murder charge against a 12-year-old girl.
Prosecutors successfully applied in court to withdraw a murder charge against a 12-year-old girl.

A murder charge against a 12-year-old girl has been dropped after prosecutors decided there was not a reasonable prospect of conviction.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was accused of stabbing a woman to death in Melbourne’s inner west on November 16, 2023.

But prosecutors applied to withdraw the charge on Thursday morning, with a children’s court magistrate striking it out. 

While no reason was given in court, Victoria Police later confirmed the charge was withdrawn following significant consideration and advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Crime scene (file image)
Neighbours found the woman’s body on the flat’s bathroom floor, naked and covered in stab wounds. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

“It was the director’s position that there were not reasonable prospects of conviction in this matter because the prosecution would not have been able to rebut the presumption of doli incapax,” the statement read.

Doli incapax is the presumption that a child aged under 13 is incapable of understanding the wrongfulness of their actions and therefore cannot be convicted of a crime. 

The 12-year-old girl was being assessed by a psychiatrist in relation to doli incapax. 

The girl did not face the children’s court but she appeared via video link for a procedural hearing in the Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.

She remained quiet and mostly kept her head down as the Secretary of the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing proposed orders for her future care.

The exact orders were not read out in court but the 12-year-old has been living in bespoke accommodation since April.

She was moved to the location after making threats to kill staff and other children at a separate facility.

The girl was charged with murder in November after allegedly stabbing a 37-year-old woman to death in a Footscray apartment. 

The court was told detectives arrived to find blood all over the apartment’s kitchen floor and bathroom, with the girl and two neighbours waiting in the hallway.

Crime scene (file image)
Victoria Police confirmed the 37-year-old woman’s death had been referred to the coroner. (Diego Fedele/AAP PHOTOS)

The neighbours called triple zero after being woken up about 1.30am by a noise and finding the 12-year-old crying in the hallway. 

The girl told one of the neighbours the woman killed herself and she tried to drag her into the shower.

The neighbours entered the apartment and found the woman’s lifeless body on the bathroom floor, naked and covered in stab wounds.

A knife was found in the victim’s hand, with a pair of bloodied white sneakers next to the body.

The shoes and knife, along with fake nails, condoms, deodorant cans and clothing, were seized by police.

Prosecutors applied for a magistrate to allow them to take DNA from the girl to match against the fingernails and shoes.

The magistrate flagged issues around the child’s mental capacity to consent to giving DNA due her intellectual disability and because she was estimated to have the maturity of someone half her age.

Prosecutors withdrew the DNA application on Thursday, along with the murder charge. 

Police confirmed the 37-year-old woman’s death had been referred to the coroner.

“The family of the victim has been notified and we will continue to support them throughout this process,” a spokeswoman said.

“Our thoughts are with them today.”

AAP