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Baden Bond's father insists he patted his toddler on the head and said sorry before he abandoned the boy without a backward glance in 2007.
Shane Arthur Simpson says he was "fried" off his head on drugs at the time and tired of looking after Baden, 22 months, whom he blamed for many of the family's woes.
Simpson says as they sat together at dusk in May 2007, Baden gave him a look he still can't forget, like Baden knew it would be the end.
Then, in a park by a boat ramp at the Logan River, south of Brisbane, Simpson walked away from his neglected toddler.
Baden's body has never been found and what happened to him is unknown.
The boy's difficult life began 22 months earlier when he was born to Dina Colleen Bond with methamphetamine in his system in an attempted home birth.
Because of his condition at birth, he and the couple's other children were taken into state care.
They were given back to Simpson and Bond a year later with the family under departmental observation.
Baden was last seen by authorities in March 2007, but it wasn't until June 2015 that he was reported missing after department of community services in NSW, where the family was then living, came looking for him.
When his siblings, government agencies and later police had questioned the couple about his whereabouts, they told multiple and inconsistent lies.
These included that Baden was with an aunt, his grandparents or in foster care. He was "given away" or the "government took him", they said.
Asked by his older brother's girlfriend where he was, Bond said: "I didn't feel like he belonged to us so we gave him back."
But, in reality, they had resented him, blaming him for the removal of his siblings and believing he was the "devil's child" and evil.
Simpson had called him a "little c***", a "dog f*****" and was "nothing but trouble".
"Baden on occasion was seen with bruises on his face," crown prosecutor Danny Boyle told the sentencing hearing.
"His diapers were often left unchanged, such that were was a smell of urine and faeces in his room."
In 2016, when Simpson admitted to police he'd abandoned the toddler, he said Baden was difficult and "everything just got too much".
He said he was "fried off my head" from his drug-taking at the time.
At the park, he says he gave Baden a hug, patted him on the head and said sorry.
"I still see the look of his eyes. It was like he knew I was going to leave him there," Simpson told police.
"I just left him there and just drove away. Didn't even look in the rear vision mirror.
"I've had to live with this for 10 years.
"I couldn't really connect with him. I was tired of caring him for him."
He claimed he hoped someone would find Baden and look after him.
Simpson pleaded guilty to Baden's manslaughter on Monday.
Bond pleaded guilty to two counts of being an accessory to the manslaughter for keeping up the lies about Baden.
They will be sentenced in Brisbane Supreme Court at a later date.