Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin
Shane Burke and Kerri-Ann Goodwin Tony Martin

Bruce and Denise Morcombe back judge's T-shirt call

BRUCE Morcombe has backed a judge's decision to order the removal of T-shirts in court featuring the face of a slain North Queensland boy.

Supporters of 18-month-old Hemi Burke donned the shirts during his killer Matthew James Ireland's guilty plea to the toddler's brutal manslaughter in the Mackay Supreme Court Tuesday.

Justice James Henry, concerned about the court being influenced by the shirts, ordered the group remove the shirts or turn them inside out.

Mr Morcombe said courts needed to remain a place of impartiality. But he offered some heartfelt advice.

"We wore a symbolic colour. A red tie, a red dress, a red coat," he said.

"We sympathise with them. We wanted to yell and scream ... The court must be neutral."

Mr Morcombe said Daniel's supporters turned their backs to Brett Peter Cowan following his sentencing in 2014 as a sign of solidarity.

Hemi's mother Kerri-Ann Goodwin and father Shane Burke (right) said they would continue to wear the shirts and the pair have encouraged others in Mackay to do the same.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said courts could not allow any sort of protest.

Hemi was bashed to death by his babysitter Ireland in March 2015.

Ireland was originally charged with murder but accepted a plea deal to see the charge downgraded to manslaughter. He will be sentenced in June.

CHRIS CLARKE


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