A 6-year-old Sydney girl died of a methadone overdose, apparently because her stepfather kept the drug in a child's cough medicine bottle, according to evidence presented to a court on Friday.
John King, the stepfather of Rose Marie Villanueva-Austin, who died Sunday at her home in northwestern Sydney, appeared briefly in court for arraignment on a murder charge. He was not required to enter a plea.
In evidence presented to Blacktown Local Court, police said the mother Julie Anne Austin, who was due to be arraigned later Friday also on a murder charge, fed her daughter the drug, apparently thinking it was cough medication.
Under Australian law, the couple can be convicted of murder if they showed "reckless indifference to life." They face life sentences if convicted.
Police presented details of a bugged telephone conversation between the girl's mother and stepfather, in which Austin allegedly asked King how the two bottles could have been mixed up and verbally abused him for putting the methadone in the cough medicine bottle.