Mother kills 8yo

A MOTHER charged with the murder of her son sat silently with her head bowed in a Victorian court this morning as a small, tight-knit community comes to grips with a horrifying tragedy.

Joanne Finch, 41, has been charged with the murder of her son Brodie, 8, at the family’s rental property in the picturesque seaside town of Tootgarook, on the Mornington Peninsula.

Ms Finch made a frantic triple-0 call shortly after 1.30pm on Thursday. By the time police arrived at the home on Alma Street, the boy was already dead.

Ms Finch appeared in a closed out of sessions court hearing late last night and was refused bail. She appeared at the Melbourne Magistrates Court again this morning and did not apply for bail.

The court heard she was taking antidepressants. She wore a grey jumper, had shoulder length brown hair and sat looking at the floor.

She was asked by Magistrate Fiona Hayes if she understood the charges and that she will be required to appear in court via videolink on June 29. She replied: “Yes” before being led out of court. It was Ms Finch’s first time in custody.

Police investigate the death of an eight-year-old in Tootgarook. Picture: Mark Stewart

Brodie Smith was in grade two at Tootgarook Primary School.Source:Facebook

Brodie’s father, Lee Moran, spoke of his heartbreak on social media. Mr Moran wrote that “I have lost the best part of me”.

“At the moment I feel so empty, still in shock,” he wrote. “Words cannot describe how much I love and miss my little fella.”

Ms Finch moved into the home in Tootgarook 12 months ago. News.com.au understands the property was advertised for sale a month ago and has since been withdrawn following the boy’s death.

Pictures from the scene at Alma Street show the house cordoned off while forensic staff carefully examine items inside and on the property, including the letterbox and a garbage bin.

Neighbours have described their shock at the young boy’s death. They say the family had two children who were often seen playing. A trampoline was erected in the family’s front yard.

“She is a very friendly lady and she always says ‘Hello’,” one neighbour told the Herald Sun. “My partner cut the grass on her nature strip just the other day. It’s scary, very scary, to have this happen in our street.”

The street is mostly occupied by young families who holiday there and pensioners who’ve settled on the water. Tootgarook is situated near Rosebud and Rye, both popular holiday spots.

A young woman whose family owns a holiday home in the street told news.com.au she couldn’t believe something like that could happen in such a peaceful place.

Joanne and Brodie together. The family moved to Tootgarook a year ago.Source:Facebook

“I don’t know the family personally, but I can absolutely tell you that Tootgarook is a beautiful, happy area in which many young families visit and live,” the woman, who did not wish to be named, said.

“To have something so tragic happen really is unfortunate.”

Another Tootgarook resident told news.com.au the suburb is very quiet and locals were shocked to hear what happened. “Very sad news,” she said.

Pictures on social media show a seemingly happy family. Ms Finch is pictured smiling with her son on a number of trips. She shared moments including a video of his first time riding a bicycle.

The house the family rented was listed for sale with an asking price of $550,000 for what was said to be “an ideal holiday getaway”.

“Situated approximately 700m to the sand and the sparkling waters of Port Phillip Bay this original beach house is ideal as a holiday getaway or an excellent investment,” the advertisement reads.

Pictures inside the three-bedroom home a short walk from the beach show an old but tidy home. It has two bedrooms at the front of the house and a large living and dining room.

A third bedroom at the rear of the house leads on to an enclosed terrace.

The kitchen leads to a third bedroom at the back of the home

The house in Alma St, Tootgarook sold in the last month or so

Brodie is a Year 2 student at Tookgarook Primary School where 268 students attend.

On Friday, locals began leaving tributes outside the family’s home. A slow procession of families made their way along the quiet street to drop off flowers and teddy bears.

Children scribbled notes to their friend. One read simply: “We love u Brodie.”

Others read “The angels will be with you now” and “Rest peacefully sweet little innocent”.

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