Less than a year ago Ali Mohammed Moussa was slapped with an apprehended violence order meant to protect his former partner.
But in recent times, and allegedly without objection, the 43-year-old had been spending time with the woman and her daughter at their Lalor Park property in Sydney’s west.
On Sunday night any prospects of reconciliation were thrown into inexplicable turmoil after the couple’s little girl was shot dead.
A single-barrel sawn-off shotgun, allegedly brought onto the property and left unattended by Mr Moussa, caused the child’s death.
Police are investigating whether the fatal shot was fired when the three-year-old girl and other children found and began playing with the loaded weapon, Fairfax Media understands.
The victim’s mother was inside the home when the child suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. Police believe Mr Moussa was outside the property at the time the gunshot rang out.
He paced around in the street as the girl’s distraught mother was heard screaming that it was all his fault for having a gun inside the home.
Once the mother was loaded into an ambulance, she shouted “I hate you, f— you, I hate you!”
Mr Moussa was on bail at the time for unrelated offences before police swarmed Danny Road on Sunday night and arrested him.
He was due to be sentenced for those unrelated charges on Monday.
Instead he was sobbing in the back of a police truck as he was driven to Blacktown Local Court to appear on firearm charges.
The Arncliffe man, who is listed as the director of a seldom-known investment company and engineering firm, has not been charged with directly causing the shooting.
However he is facing charges for possessing an unregistered and prohibited weapon and failing to take all reasonable precautions to ensure it was safely kept. He has also been charged with contravening an AVO.
Domestic violence had previously affected the family. Police had been called to the home before, including in September to reports of gunshots and yelling.
On September 20 last year, an AVO was taken out intending to protect the victim’s mother. The order banned Mr Moussa from going to the woman’s house or workplace.
However police have been told the couple had kept in contact and she did not object to him being at the home recently.
Recounting Sunday night’s traumatic and chaotic scenes, neighbour Mark Tupa said he heard a gun go off and ran outside to see what had happened.
“The father came out and was screaming and crying. I saw another guy leave the house with blood all over his hands,” he said.
Mr Tupa said the girl’s mother came out of the house shortly after, screaming at one of the men.
“She was just saying it was his fault and he shouldn’t have had a gun in the house,” he said.
Another man was also heard shouting “my niece just died”.
Quakers Hill Local Area Command Superintendent Paul Carrett said the death of a three-year-old girl in any circumstances was tragic.
“It is tragic for the family and it is tragic for the police and other emergency services who attend these scenes,” he said on Monday.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to reiterate the need to keep firearms safe at all times and stored in accordance with legislation.”
Mr Moussa was refused bail to appear in Blacktown Local Court on September 1.