Today should have been Curtis Powell’s 14th birthday. There were no celebrations. Instead, a court has heard details of a ‘turbulent life’ and death.
Today should have been Curtis Powell’s 14th birthday. There were no celebrations. Instead, a court has heard details of a ‘turbulent life’ and death.

‘Turbulent life’: Man pleads guilty over death

ON the day Curtis Powell should have been celebrating his 14th birthday, a court has heard details of his "turbulent life" in the care of two people who played a role in his death.

Curtis was 10 when he died in July 2015 at the home in the southern Brisbane suburb of Mackenzie, where he lived with his aunt and her partner.

His official cause of death was bronchopneumonia, but he had more than 200 injuries on his body.

Curtis Powell was found dead in a home at Mackenzie after being placed in care of his aunt.
Curtis Powell was found dead in a home at Mackenzie after being placed in care of his aunt.

His aunt, Jodie Maree Powell, was jailed in August for nine years for his manslaughter.

The court heard she failed to his get medical help for Curtis in an attempt to cover up years of abuse.

Her partner, James Colin Burnham, on Tuesday pleaded guilty in the Brisbane Supreme Court to being an accessory after the fact.

Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said his role involved trying to help Powell escape being caught by lying to police, wiping blood from Curtis' mouth after the boy's death and washing bloody linen.

But defence barrister Andrew Hoare said Burnham had actually cleaned the blood from Curtis' mouth in a "final act of kindness".

Mr Hoare said Burnham felt trapped in a destructive relationship with Powell and had "done what he could" within the parameters of the relationship.

James Burnham.
James Burnham.

Mr Crane said there was a power imbalance in the relationship between Burnham and Powell, who was the "dominating force".

Powell was a nurse and mainly responsible for the care of the children living in their home, while Burnham was a chef.

They had both cared for Curtis since he was three.

The court heard Burnham was eight years younger than Powell and the pair's relationship started when Burnham was 18.

Burnham's sentencing has been adjourned until February 21 for his lawyers to get a report from a psychologist.