You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

I didn't harm Nikki, mum tells jury

AAP logoAAP 26/10/2016 Genevieve Gannon

A jury has watched footage of a Victorian mother break down as police tell her her boyfriend would be charged with murdering her two-year-old daughter.

Peta-Ann Francis had been seeing John Clifford Torney, 32, for about five months when the body of Nikki Francis Coslovich was discovered with fatal blunt force trauma injuries in the roof of the Mildura family home.

Torney is on trial for murdering the toddler on August 25 last year but his defence says Ms Francis killed her daughter.

In a police interview played to the Victorian Supreme Court on Wednesday, Ms Francis said she didn't know what had happened to Nikki but asked how Torney, who treated her "like an angel", could bash her two-year-old to death.

"He's treated my children with more respect and that than their own father has," she told homicide detectives.

She told the court from the witness box she didn't harm her daughter.

"I didn't hurt Nikki, I didn't hit Nikki," Ms Francis said.

She denied defence barrister Julie Condon's propositions that she yelled at Nikki, threw her on to the end of her bed and smacked her the day she died.

Ms Condon suggested Ms Francis said to Torney she had "gone to far with Nikki" and she didn't think she was breathing.

Ms Francis denied this.

Ms Condon further suggested Ms Francis told Torney they "need to get rid of the body" and asked him to do it.

"No," Ms Francis replied.

"You lost control with your little daughter, didn't you?" Ms Condon said.

"No," Ms Francis replied.

In her August 28 police interview, Ms Francis broke down when detectives told her Torney would be charged with murder.

"Why," she said through her tears in the video played for the jury.

"How could he do it... my baby... how?"

She told police she didn't know anything about what had happened the day Nikki died and Torney hadn't told her anything.

"When? Do you know how she died?" she said.

"I need to know."

She said she didn't know how Nikki got into the roof cavity, adding her daughter had never seen the manhole and wouldn't know what the manhole looked like.

"When I found out she was missing, I searched everywhere a little child would go to," Ms Francis told police.

She said she had never been into the roof, that she didn't have a ladder, and couldn't stand on a chair because she doesn't have any cartilage in her knees.

The trial continues.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon