Cult mum who allegedly beat toddler daughter to death pleads not guilty to murder

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A mother who allegedly beat her 2-year-old daughter to death with a piece of plastic pipe while living in a cult in rural Sydney in 1987 has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Ellen Craig was extradited to Australia last year after she was arrested in Palmerston North in 2021, where she had been living for almost 30 years following the alleged murder.

Today Craig, once a member of the Ministry of God cult, appeared via video link in the Bathurst Local Court west of Sydney and pleaded not guilty to the charge.

The cult’s leader, Alexander Wilon, did not make an appearance, though he faces charges of helping Craig dispose of the toddler’s body by burning it in a barrel and dumping the remains in a creek.

Police have scoured the property but have been unable to locate Tillie Craig’s body.

Both Craig and Wilon were due to make pleas in late February but Craig’s lawyer told the court she had been assaulted while in prison and was in hospital receiving treatment at the time of her court appearance.

Several magistrates at the Bathurst Local Court have expressed annoyance at the length of time it has taken to get to this stage, with lawyers for Craig and Wilon explaining there were hundreds of pages of evidence to sort through.

Today the charges were finally committed by the Community Magistrate – which in the Australian court system means there was sufficient evidence for the case to be heard by a higher-level court.

Craig will appear for arraignment at the Sydney Supreme Court in July in preparation for a trial. Wilon is yet to enter a plea and is due back before the Bathurst Local Court next month.

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