A THREE-YEAR-OLD girl was subjected to "cruel and sadistic" sexual abuse from the people she trusted most, a court has heard.
Crown prosecutor Michael Lehane told Brisbane District Court the girl was left in pain for about two days and would have died if her mother's partner had not finally phoned an ambulance.
He said the girl's screams could be heard in the background of the Triple 0 call from an island near Brisbane.
Doctors found the girl had bleeding eyes consistent with shaken baby syndrome, broken lower back, ulcers, cuts, bruising and genital tears.
The couple claimed the girl had suffered the injuries in a motorbike accident.
The man and woman, now separated, were convicted after a trial in March of raping the child using various methods, two counts of grievous bodily harm, two counts of assault causing bodily harm and torture over two months in 2009.
Mr Lehane said, on Tuesday, the couple had pulled the girl out of childcare when someone noticed bruises on her buttocks in September of that year and the ambulance call came in November.
He said the child had fingerprint bruising and torn lips from being forced to engage in sexual acts.
Mr Lehane said the bruising around her waist from restraints was "sadistic and macabre".
He described the crime as heinous and one of the worst of its kind.
"It was intended to cause the child severe pain and suffering," he said.
Mr Lehane said the girl took a long time to recover from physical injuries but she was a "disturbed little girl" who would need long-term therapy for psychological injuries.
He asked for a 17 to 18 year sentence for the man and 10 to 12 for the woman.
Defence barrister Michael Henry said the man was run off the island after the charges came to light and feared for his safety.
He said the man's three sons were no longer in contact for the same reason.
Mr Henry said there was no evidence his client was the principal offender and noted the man was the one who called an ambulance and went to the hospital with the child.
"He did, in a perverse way, save her life," he said.
Mr Henry said a severe sentence might send the wrong message that murder was an easier way out.
Defence barrister Jann Taylor, acting for the mother, submitted there was "ample evidence" the man was the principal offender and her client was "not directly involved".
She said the mother's inaction made her criminally responsible for her daughter's injuries.
Ms Taylor said the couple did not have an "equal relationship " and there was evidence of his "controlling nature".
Mr Henry objected to those submissions.
Judge Deborah Richards is yet to sentence the pair.
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