Pictured: John Torney, who was acquitted of murdering a toddler in 2015

The man arrested over the ‘violent’ death of a woman in the small town of Cobram had previously admitted to hiding the body of a toddler in the roof of a home – but was found not guilty of murder. 

Emma Bates, 49, was found dead inside her far north Victorian home about 2.15pm on Tuesday, having suffered injuries to her upper-body and face.

She is the 26th women to be killed in Australia this year as the nation grapples with a violence-against-women epidemic.

Footage shows John Torney, 39, being placed in handcuffs by officers in the main street of Cobram on Wednesday. He is currently assisting police with their inquiries.

Daily Mail Australia understands Ms Bates and Torney, who lived next door to each other, had recently begun dating. 

Torney, a violent drug addict, has an extensive criminal history with more than 70 court records. He pleaded guilty to domestic violence offences last year and was most recently in court earlier this month. 

Pictured: John Torney, who was acquitted of murdering a toddler in 2015

Pictured: John Torney, who was acquitted of murdering a toddler in 2015

Ms Bates was discovered deceased inside her home (pictured) on Tuesday afternoon

Ms Bates was discovered deceased inside her home (pictured) on Tuesday afternoon

A wheelchair and cat scratching post could be seen sitting unattended in Ms Bates driveway

A wheelchair and cat scratching post could be seen sitting unattended in Ms Bates driveway

In 2015, he was accused of murdering his then-partner’s two-year-old daughter, Nikki Francis-Coslovich after the toddler, who had been bashed to death, was found hidden in a roof cavity.

Torney admitted putting the child’s body in the roof, but claimed it was the little girl’s mother, Peta Ann Francis, who had killed her. 

Ms Francis was never charged and Torney was acquitted of the toddler’s death by a jury – who were never told about his violent and drug-riddled past.

He has also been previously convicted for beating a police officer with a hammer and, a neighbour’s statement that he used to ‘bash the s*** out of Nikki’ was deemed inadmissible in court. 

A team of detectives and forensic officers were seen scouring the Campbell Road home for evidence and speaking to neighbours on Wednesday as part of the investigation. 

As police trailed in and out of the front door, a wheelchair, cat scratching post tower, and exercise bike could be seen sitting abandoned Ms Bates’ undercover carpark. 

Friend Kylie Mizzi, whose parents lived next door to Ms Bates for many years, told Daily Mail Australia she was a ‘beautiful soul’.

‘She always helped my elderly parents and had a huge heart, was warm and loving,’ she said.

‘I’m in total shock that something like this could happen to such a beautiful soul. 

John Torney is seen outside a supreme court sitting of Mildura Magistrates Court, in Mildura, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.

John Torney is seen outside a supreme court sitting of Mildura Magistrates Court, in Mildura, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.

Pictured: Nikki Francis-Coslovich

Pictured: Nikki Francis-Coslovich

Ms Mizzi affectionately described Ms Bates as a 'crazy cat lady' who 'loved her cats'. A sign dedicated to her pet cats could be seen on her screen door on Wednesday

Ms Mizzi affectionately described Ms Bates as a ‘crazy cat lady’ who ‘loved her cats’. A sign dedicated to her pet cats could be seen on her screen door on Wednesday

Forensics teams trailed in and out of the house on Wednesday as the investigation into the tragedy continues

Forensics teams trailed in and out of the house on Wednesday as the investigation into the tragedy continues

‘Something needs to be done about domestic violence. All women should feel safe.’

Ms Mizzi said Ms Bates did not have children, but was a mother to several cats who she adored.

Ms Bates ex-husband, 59, was contacted by The Age on Wednesday but was too distraught to speak.

According to a local news report issued on Wednesday, towns along the NSW-Victorian border are experiencing an unprecedented rise in the number of women seeking help for family and domestic violence issues. 

Di Glover, the chief executive of Albury-based community-support organisation Yes Unlimited, said she has never witnessed such high figures over the past 10 years.

‘We are seeing 8 to 10 women a week presenting after a domestic violence assault,’ Ms Glover told the Border Mail. 

‘We are really feeling the pinch.’

Police officers are seen taking down crime scene tape at the home on Wednesday afternoon

Police officers are seen taking down crime scene tape at the home on Wednesday afternoon 

Two distressed women could be seen watching police working the crime scene

Two distressed women could be seen watching police working the crime scene

Ms Gloves also noted that domestic-violence related assaults across the Murray River Police District have surged over the past five years.

She said officers from the region had responded to 753 incidents in the past 12 months, including 418 of which were in the Albury Local government area alone.  

Speaking to reporters outside her home on Wednesday,Ms Bates’ neighbour Kayla Dennis said she no longer feels safe as a woman in Australian society.

‘[I’m] really scared. I won’t go out on my own,’ she said.

‘A lot of women in Australia are starting to feel like that too. 

‘It is really sad.’

Speaking to media on Wednesday, Premier Jacinta Allan pleaded with Victorians to call out bad behaviour towards women as she calls for change to end violence against women.

While she could not speak specifically about the incident in Cobram, as the exact circumstances are yet to be determined, she said too many women have been killed this year.  

Kayla Dennis said women across Australia fear for their safety as violence against women continues to climb

Kayla Dennis said women across Australia fear for their safety as violence against women continues to climb

Cobram is located in northern Victoria, near the NSW border

Cobram is located in northern Victoria, near the NSW border

‘We have seen too many women already, in 2024, lose their life,’ Ms Allan said.

‘They’ve lost their life, either at the hands of a current or former partner, or they’ve lost their life at the hands of a complete stranger who seemed intent on inflicting harm against women.

‘This has to stop.’

The tragedy comes as Australia’s grim violence-against women death toll continues to mount, with a spate of shocking alleged murders rocking the country in recent weeks. 

On Monday, young mother Molly Ticehurst was found dead in a home in Forbes, in Central West NSW – just 10 days after she celebrated her 28th birthday. 

Her accused killer had been released on bail just weeks ago after sexually assaulting her – with the staggering revelation prompting the NSW government to launch a review into the case and the state’s bail system.

Eleven days ago five women – including Ashlee Good, Jade Young, Dawn Singleton, Pikria Darchia and Yixuan Cheng – were among six people killed in a mass stabbing at Bondi Junction in Sydney.

Meanwhile, in Victoria, the Ballarat region has been at the centre of several shocking and high-profile alleged murder cases in recent weeks.

Earlier this month, Clunes woman Hannah McGuire, 23, was found dead inside a burnt-out car near Scarsdale, south-west of Ballarat. Her ex-boyfriend, with whom she had recently bought a home, has since been charged with her alleged murder.

In March, Ballarat man Patrick Stephenson, 28, was charged over the alleged murder of local mother Samantha Murphy, 52, who vanished from the area during a morning jog in February.

Around the same time as Ms Murphy’s disappearance, another Ballarat woman, mother-of-five Rebecca Young, 42, was killed in an apparent murder-suicide by her partner, Ian Butler, 55.

Days after Stephenson’s arrest, the body of young mother  Chaithanya ‘Swetha’ Madhagani, 30, was found stuffed into a green wheelie bin on Mount Pollock Road in Buckley, west of Geelong. 

Her husband Ashok Raj Varikuppala had already flown to India with their son and is being sought by police to be questioned as part of the investigation.

If you or someone you know has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault call 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) for 24 hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line.

Mensline Australia 1300 789 978 Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties. 24/7 telephone and online support an information service for Australian men. Call 1300 789 978 for help.

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