Keli Lane ... wept in court.  Keli Lane ... wept in court. Photo: Brendan Esposito
KELI LANE wept as her mother and a friend told a court how her nine-year-old daughter has become withdrawn since her mother has been in custody and asks every day about when she will be coming home.
Lane's mother Sandra broke down at a sentencing hearing in the NSW Supreme Court when she described the first time she took Lane's fourth child, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to see her mother at Silverwater Women's Correctional Centre.
''I saw two very distressed people who just love each other so much,'' Mrs Lane said.
Lane, who was facing the two women from the dock, cried whenever her daughter was mentioned. The former elite water polo player was convicted by a jury in December of murdering her two-day-old baby Tegan after they left Auburn Hospital in 1996. The body has never been found.
Her long-term GP, Jeremy Thompson, told the packed courtroom that Lane ''struck me as being a very balanced, excellent mother'' whenever she took her daughter to see him.
Dr Thompson said he asked Lane during a consultation in 2004 if she had killed Tegan. ''She said 'No, no, I would never do that' and got very emotional about it,'' he said.
Lane, 35, fell pregnant six times over nine years, having two terminations in her late teens before keeping three pregnancies - and births - secret. Her first and third babies were adopted out and she claimed she gave the second baby, Tegan, to its natural father, a man named Andrew Norris or Andrew Morris. But despite extensive police searches, Andrew and Tegan have never been found.
In his submissions, defence barrister Keith Chapple, SC, said although a jury had found Lane murdered Tegan, there was no definitive evidence that she intended to kill the baby or that the death was premeditated.
He said the judge could find it had been ''a momentary, instantaneous decision'', resulting from panic or lack of perceived options.
But the crown prosecutor, Mark Tedeschi, QC, said despite where and how the baby died remaining a mystery, ''it doesn't detract from the totality of the evidence that she left the hospital with the intention of killing the baby and she did kill the baby''.
Justice Anthony Whealy said he would have ''difficulty'' determining both Lane's intention and an appropriate sentence.
''I don't really know what happened to her [Tegan]. For all I know she could have abandoned the child and the child died,'' Justice Whealy said. ''I have no evidence that she manually or physically took the child's life or just left it to die, I just don't know.''
In the 42 character references tendered to the court, including one from her former husband, Lane was repeatedly described as a devoted and loving mother, a dedicated teacher, a successful sportswoman and active in her local community.
Her father, retired policeman Robert Lane, wrote: ''My wife and I have great difficulty coming to grips with the position Keli finds herself. We will continue to support her in anyway we can.''
Justice Whealy will hand down his sentence on April 15.