A man who bundled the body of his stepdaughter into a suitcase before setting her on fire has been granted parole.
Robert Smith is serving a minimum 12-years’ jail for manslaughter and being an accessory to the murder of six-year-old Kiesha Abrahams in 2010.
He was jailed alongside Kiesha’s mother, Kristi Abrahams, who was convicted of murder and jailed for at least 16 years.
Smith appeared in Parramatta District Court on Tuesday and was told by Judge Geoffrey Bellew that the NSW State Parole Authority had granted his parole.
Kiesha died in her bed at their home in Hebersham, western Sydney, after being knocked unconscious by her mother when she refused to put her pyjamas on.
Robert Smith (left) is currently serving a maximum 16-year sentence for manslaughter and being an accessory to the murder of Kiesha Abrahams in 2010 but the NSW State Parole Authority has made their intention clear to grant his release next month
Kiesha (pictured) died in bed at their Mt Druitt home in Sydney’s west, after being knocked unconscious by her mother before being put to bed, where she died
The couple did not seek medical help after Kiesha was beaten and instead put her in the shower and then to bed, where she died.
Despite the brutal crime, the Parole Authority formed an ‘intention to grant parole’ and plan on releasing Smith as early as April 21.
Smith appeared via video link in his prison greens on Wednesday with his long greying hair slicked back into a low ponytail. He was devoid of expression as he waited to learn his fate.
The court heard the victim’s family had not objected to Smith’s release but asked for him to be prohibited from entering Blacktown or Penrith in western Sydney.
Smith was a model inmate in prison while participating in multiple programs and employment.
Judge Bellew granted him parole, and he will serve the next four years of his sentence under strict supervision.
‘The authority determines that the offender should be released,’ he told the court.
‘The authority is satisfied that it is in the interest of the community that the offender be released.’
The court heard Smith would be released between April 21 and 28.
Smith did not react to the decision to grant him parole, but community members sobbed outside court as they grieved Kiesha’s loss.
On Monday protesters lead by Alison Anderson (pictured) took to the streets to demand he is not granted parole after the State Parole Authority
Congregating outside the home of Smith’s mother in Bidwill, where he will stay if he is to be granted parole, protesters demanded he is not released from prison
Protesters took to the streets on Monday to demand he was not granted parole after the Parole Authority stated its intention to do so.
Congregating outside the home of Smith’s mother in Bidwill, Alison Anderson, once a devoted supporter of Kristi Abrahams turned one of the most vocal in the fight for justice, led the calls to keep him behind bars.
Ms Anderson told Daily Mail Australia the sentence imposed on the couple wasn’t enough and no matter how much rehabilitation Smith had, he should never be released.
‘It should be life for a life, I don’t care how much so-called rehabilitation it takes, his papers should have been stamped never to be released,’ she said.
‘I say no parole for child killers.
‘They should never be released, he has taken a life and he needs to rot in hell in there.’
Many locals applauded Ms Anderson’s protests for justice for Kiesha, calling her ‘a champion’ and ‘the voice for Keisha’.
On the street where Smith will live with his mother if he is to be granted parole, local Tash Taylor told Daily Mail Australia that the community needs to stop taking their anger out on his mother.
‘Our courts are far too lenient but it’s not his mother’s fault,’ she said.
‘It’s horrible she’s the centre of this for something she didn’t do.’
On the street where Smith will live with his mother if he is to be granted parole, local Tash Taylor told Daily Mail Australia that the community needs to stop taking their anger out on his mother (pictured- the home where Smith will stay if he is to be released)
Smith and Abrahams were arrested in 2011 at Shalvey, a short walk from where the little girl’s body was found in dense bushland.
On April 11, they went to check out the location where she was buried on what would have been Keisha’s seventh birthday.
But little did they know police were waiting in Freya Crescent, Shalvey for the pair to exit the park and place them under arrest.
Residents on Freya Crescent said they still recall that night and can’t believe it has been over a decade.
One man, who has lived on the street for two decades said the area has always been a police hotspot, with late-night arrests a relatively frequent occurrence.
Smith and Abrahams were arrested in 2011 at Shalvey, a short walk from where the little girl’s body was found in dense bushland
On April 11, they went to check out the location where she was buried on what would have been Keisha’s seventh birthday before being arrested by police on Freya Crescent, Shalvey (pictured)
The local, who spoke under the guise of anonymity, said he remembers that night as cops lined the streets waiting for the couple to exit the park.
‘I remember waking up to it was just like wow what is happening,’ he said.
‘I can’t believe it was that long ago but police being here isn’t unusual, so it wasn’t like we realised how big that arrest was at the time’.
The man, however, said he was glad Smith was set to be released as he ‘deserves a second chance’.
‘It’s good that he’s going to be getting out, he’s done his time and deserves a second chance and all that,’ he said.
‘It is time for him and others to get on with their lives.’
Yet just a few houses up the street, a woman said she believes Smith should have been given a sentence to reflect the years he ‘stole from that little girl’.
‘I am surprised he only received a 16-year sentence and is being released after only 12,’ she said.
‘That girl would be 18 years old now and I believe the punishment should reflect at least the years he took from her, so it should have been more like 80.’
Smith hid Kiesha’s body in a suitcase inside a wardrobe for five days before taking it to bushland at Shalvey (pictured), not far from their home
Smith doused Keisha’s body in petrol and set it alight before burying the charred remains
Because Smith’s non-parole period has now ended, the SPA had to consider his freedom.
The SPA is obliged to begin assessing if an inmate is suitable for release 60 days before the date they are eligible and must make a final parole decision no later than three weeks before the inmate’s eligible release date.
When the five members of the SPA met to discuss Smith’s potential release, they came to the consensus that they intend to free him on parole.
The matter will now go to a public review hearing on April 4 which will be held in open court.
Victims and the state will be allowed to have their say before a final decision is handed down.
‘A final parole decision will not be made until the Authority considers all the available information before it, including any submissions that may be made at the review hearing,’ the SPA said.
Abrahams (pictured) initially said she had put Keisha to bed in their Hebersham home at about 9.30pm but had disappeared by the following morning
Abrahams called police to tell them her daughter was missing, sparking an extensive search in Sydney’s western suburbs that caught nationwide attention before her remains were uncovered
Kiesha became a well-known face after she was reported missing by Abrahams and Smith in August, 2010.
Abrahams initially said she had put Kiesha to bed in their Hebersham home at about 9.30pm but had disappeared by the following morning.
She then called police to tell them her daughter was missing, sparking an extensive search in Sydney’s western suburbs that caught nationwide attention.
Abrahams and Smith made emotional pleas at the time, and gained an outpouring of support from Australians after appearing on TV several times.
But it didn’t take long for police to suspect them, and Abrahams eventually made a tearful confession to an undercover cop.
Abrahams claimed she just gave her daughter ‘a little nudge’ and she fell over and hit her head on the floor, but forensic evidence disproved this and pointed to forceful blows to the head.
Eight months after Kiesha was reported missing, police arrested Abrahams and Smith in 2011.
Abrahams was charged with murder after human remains were discovered in bushland at Mt Druitt on what would have been Kiesha’s seventh birthday.
Smith hid Kiesha’s body in a suitcase inside a wardrobe for five days before taking it to bushland at Shalvey, not far from their home.
He then doused her body in petrol and set it alight before burying the charred remains.
Abrahams was jailed for 22 years and Smith was jailed for a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 16 years
The little girl was relentlessly abused by her mother, who was unable to care for her due to abuse she herself suffered as a child.
Abrahams also hated how Kiesha resembled her ex-partner Christopher Weippeart, the girl’s biological father.
Though Kiesha’s body was burned after her death, a post-mortem found 10 separate injuries to her head, jaw, and body, including teeth fractures.
Abrahams abused her daughter for more of her short life, but it escalated in the 18 months before her death.
When a case worker spoke to Kiesha in 2007, when she was three, she pointed to a burn mark and said ‘mum did that’ and ‘mum hit there’.
Abrahams was jailed for 22 years and Smith was jailed for a minimum of 12 years and a maximum of 16 years at his sentencing in 2013.