Man acquitted of killing Melbourne toddler sprints away as free man

Emily Angwin

The man found not guilty of murdering a Melbourne toddler, despite admitting he did nothing to help the dying child, has sprinted from waiting media as a free man.

John Torney claims little Nikki Francis-Coslovich’s mother told him to hide the girl’s body in the roof space of her Mildura home.

But on Thursday, Torney ran from the Mildura police station after a Supreme Court jury found him not guilty of killing the two-year-old.

Two-year-old Nikki Francis-Coslovich. Source: 7News
John Torney. Source: 7News

He refused to speak to waiting media, after earlier run-ins with reporters outside his home.

Torney's former partner and little Nikki’s mother Peta Ann Francis didn't say anything either as she was rushed from court.

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Nikki's mother is rushed from court. Source: 7News

Nikki was fatally bashed, with her injuries consistent with a high-speed car crash.

Torney admitted to police he hid the little girl's lifeless body in the roof cavity of their Mildura home but said it was at request of Ms Francis.

Torney’s legal team argued it was Ms Francis who was the murderer, and used her triple-0 call as evidence she lied to the operator after stumbling over basic questions.

Police had alleged it was Torney who murdered Nikki while Ms Francis was running errands in August last year.

The Mildura scene. Source: 7News

With Torney now a free man, his violent history can be revealed including anger management issues, and prior violence and assaults.

Torney has served more than a year behind bars over Nikki’s death – which he has now been acquitted of.

Sadly, Nikki’s murder remains unsolved.

Little Nikki. Source: 7News

Earlier in the hearing, the court heard the then-couple had gone to have sex before reporting Nikki missing.

"Peta was the last one to check on Nikki and she was in her bed," he told police.

Ms Francis had also admitted to lying to the triple-0 operator and giggling during the call when she reported her daughter missing.

Yeliena Baber, who conducted the autopsy on little Nikki, found her cause of death to be “blunt force trauma from repeated blows to her abdomen and chest”.