THE man accused of killing eight-year-old Bundaberg girl Trinity Bates more than two years ago has pleaded guilty to her murder.
Allyn John Slater, now 22, had been committed to stand trial in Bundaberg Supreme Court on Monday, but pleaded guilty to murder in Brisbane Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon.
He is to be sentenced in the same court at 2pm Thursday. Bundaberg Criminal Investigation Branch Detective Sergeant Andrew Self said officers from the Department of Public Prosecutions informed them of Slater's plea shortly after 1pm Wednesday.
"Bundaberg detectives are satisfied with the plea," Det Sgt Self said, adding police had spent two years building their case.
Trinity's tiny body was found face down in a drain just metres from her family home on Walker St after she was reported missing on February 22, 2010.
It was believed the youngster had been abducted by Slater the night before, with her parents discovering her empty bed at 5.30am.
She was covered with 87 bruises and had a 17mm cut to her head - injuries that forensic pathologists later determined had been consistent with strangulation.
Slater, who was 19 at the time and believed to have been a friend of the Bates family, was charged with her murder the next day.
The accused child killer faced a three-day committal hearing in March last year, where Bundaberg Magistrates Court heard from a range of witnesses including attending officers, a forensic pathologist and one of Slater's fellow inmates, Craig Simpson.
Simpson, who shared a cell with Slater at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, told the court the accused confided in him and had admitted to "squeezing" little Trinity.
In August last year, Slater's lawyers considered applying to have his case moved away from Bundaberg to ensure a fair trial.
But a two-week trial was set down in Bundaberg Supreme Court for Monday. His guilty plea means the trial will no longer go ahead.
Slater has been held in custody since he was charged.
Trinity's death sparked a massive outpouring of grief and support from people right across Australia.
The news of Slater's guilty plea was no exception, with many people leaving comments on the News-Mail's Facebook page and website, expressing their sadness at the youngster's death.