But Malaysian national Siti Nurhidayah Kamal, the woman messaging the grieving couple, never had their mobile phone, yet continued bombarding Amiyah’s father with relentless demands for $1000 cash.
They later found out Kamal, the 25-year-old daughter of a police inspector, was acting out a hoax. The phone has never been recovered.
On Tuesday, the County Court heard of the couple’s ongoing heartache and desperation to reclaim precious memories with their beautiful daughter who died on April 24.
Judge Elizabeth Gaynor was scathing in her sentencing of Kamal, describing her offending as a deliberate attempt to exploit people already experiencing the gravest of distress.
“That you should be inspired in the first place by such suffering to offend in this way, much less continue it as intensely as you did even after being told Amiyah was dying and then of her death, I find to be so reprehensible as to be amoral,” she said.
“I regard the objective gravity of this offending and your moral culpability to be of the highest order.
“You were entirely aware they were tending to their dying daughter.”
In a victim impact statement, Mr Windross described the “torturous course” of his daughter’s illness which began as a diagnosed failure to thrive in the early weeks of her life.
In October 2018, Amiyah went into respiratory distress and was rushed to the Monash Hospital as her health deteriorated. She spent 200 of her 338 days in hospital.
“Our hopes of seeing our daughter in happier and more positive times was ripped for us,” Mr Windross wrote.
“The fact I told you our baby was dying in my arms … wasn’t a deterrent for you.
“You even baited me to respond to you with a threat that you’d wipe the phone if I didn’t respond.”
Police eventually arrested Kamal at her Springvale home on April 26.
The investigation later found that the 25-year-old had messaged Mr Windross 92 times in just 24 hours.
On Tuesday, the court heard Kamal had no criminal history but pleaded guilty to “unsophisticated” and “impulsive” offending.
Kamal had also only been in Australia for about eight months and in Melbourne for four months when the blackmail occurred.
Judge Gaynor said that despite her defence counsel revealing their client was in financial desperation, she found no evidence of this.
She sentenced Kamal to three years in jail with a minimum of two years.
She will be eligible for release in 2021 after already serving 326 days in custody.
Outside court, Amiyah’s mother said she was happy with the sentence.
Ms Windross said she hoped the focus would now return to reclaiming her daughter’s memory and the hospital staff who worked so hard to treat their little girl.
“I’m glad [Kamal] got what she deserved,” Ms Windross said.
“I want Amiyah to be remembered as an undiagnosed child, as a unicorn, and I want the focus to be on mitochondrial diseases, that’s the suspected disease that Amiyah died of.
“That’s where the attention should be placed.”
Ms Windross said if anyone still had her phone to please return it along with the previous memories it holds.
Erin covers crime for The Age. Most recently she was a police reporter at the Geelong Advertiser.