Micahel Curren was on bail when he killed a toddler. Police had tried to keep him behind bars, but a High Court judge over-ruled them.

Key Points:

The first thing that strikes you about Michael Curran is his impassiveness.

During two trials he sat in the dock listening to evidence of his shocking violence without a flicker of emotion.

The only moment he showed the slightest hint of caring was when a judge sentenced him to nine years for killing 24-year-old Natasha Hayden.

Then, Curran closed his eyes and appeared shocked, perhaps unable to believe the length of his sentence.

This was not his first crime, or prison sentence.

According to police, Curran had already raped a woman in a toilet block at Tauranga's Memorial Park.

The vicious assault, in 2002, left the victim badly injured, but Curran was acquitted.

Instead, he served two years and four months behind bars for perverting the course of justice - having convinced a family member and friend to lie for him and say he was elsewhere when the rape occurred.

As a teenager, Curran had served two years for indecently assaulting a girl under 12, and a year later, attempted unlawful sexual connection with another girl.

By the time the then 25-year-old killed Mrs Hayden in January 2005 and 2-year-old Aaliyah Morrissey nine months later, he had racked up 22 convictions.

But this was not enough to stop Curran, now 28, being granted bail when he was charged with Mrs Hayden's murder.

Police objected, but a judge ruled that Curran, found guilty yesterday of murdering Aaliyah, was eligible to live at his Tauranga house with his family while awaiting trial.

The reasons for granting bail were kept secret throughout his trials. Chief High Court judge Tony Randerson refused an application by Mrs Hayden's parents for a written copy of the decision.

Police opposition focused on fears that Curran, who has convictions for perverting the course of justice, would interfere with witnesses.

Whatever the reasons for bail, the decision was to prove a fatal one. While at the Haukore St house, Curran - on a 24-hour curfew - beat little Aaliyah to death.

She was the daughter of neighbours who had become friends with him and his wife, Donna.

Like Mrs Hayden, Curran seduced Aaliyah's mother, Hoana, and for at least the second time, conducted an affair under his wife's nose.

For an overweight man with a long, greasy ponytail, Curran exerted surprising influence over women, but it seemed fear held them to him.

In the trial for Aaliyah's murder, Mrs Curran told the court her husband controlled their home and both she and Aaliyah's mother were powerless against him.

Natasha Hayden, also married, had kept her affair with Curran a secret from her husband. But it was Curran who proved the pathological liar when confronted with evidence that he had killed her and Aaliyah.

He repeatedly lied about how Mrs Hayden died at McLaren Falls, telling at least three different stories. He first claimed he found her hanging from a post by her clothes, and 10 months later said he accidentally strangled her during sex in her car.

On the same day, he made another statement to police about Aaliyah. He admitted causing her death on September 13, but said it had not been intentional.

In both cases, he said he would plead guilty if the charges were dropped from murder to manslaughter.

The police refused, although his charge was reduced to manslaughter in Mrs Hayden's case.

He went to trial in May 2006, the jury dismissing his explanations as fabrications and the sentencing judge calling the video interviews he gave police nothing but "performance".

Whether or not Curran intended to kill, his methods were brutal and effective. He strangled Mrs Hayden and slammed and stomped on 13kg Aaliyah, using his own size to cut short two young lives with unprovoked hatred.

Wife 'listened to her conscience'

Two weeks before her husband, Michael Curran, went to trial for killing Aaliyah Morrissey, Donna Curran rang police and confessed she had been lying for him.

She told officers she had seen him slapping Aaliyah repeatedly across the face and that Curran had told her to say Aaliyah had fallen out of a bunk on another occasion when she was awoken by the 2-year-old crying in the night.

Mrs Curran is now separated from Curran, but until her admissions, she had stuck by the 28-year-old through two killings and at least two affairs, one with one of his victims.

She told the Weekend Herald her change of heart was spurred by the fact Curran's trial was approaching and she had been told she stood to lose her three children if she sided with him. She also claimed she wanted to do the right thing.

"It was just my conscience speaking," she said.

As a witness in this week's trial, Mrs Curran spoke of the control her husband exerted in their house, and how she felt powerless against him.

He continued to pressure her to lie from prison, which she said stopped her from telling the truth earlier.

Donna Curran was 16 when she met Curran and is now 26.

She said he abused her, verbally and physically, during their relationship, but now, after much counselling, she finally has a "clear head".

"It does feel good to be able to tell the truth and to be able to stand up to him."

Curran's mother, Sue, also lied for her son, saying she had been at his house when Aaliyah was injured - in fact Curran had rung her in a panic.

Sue Curran told the truth only when pressured by police.

She could face charges for her deception.

'I knew he'd kill again'

When killer Michael Curran was granted bail, Brian Brown set out to check on him day and night.

"I knew he'd do it again," Mr Brown told the Weekend Herald.

Mr Brown's daughter, Natasha Hayden, had been killed by Curran in January 2005, but Curran was yet to go to trial. Despite a slew of previous convictions, the then 25-year-old was bailed to a house with his wife and children - and just down the street from Aaliyah Morrissey's family.

Mr Brown found out about Curran's violent past and feared his 24-year-old daughter would not be Curran's last victim.

"I checked around and found out he was just an evil bastard and I just wanted to let him know I was on to him."

Mr Brown parked outside Curran's house for a few minutes each morning and night.

"He'd see I was there and the word was that he was scared I was going to get him."

Mr Brown also considered dropping leaflets in neighbours' letterboxes warning them there was a killer in their street, but worried he would get in trouble with police.

It was only after Curran was arrested for murdering 2-year-old Aaliyah nine months later that neighbours learned who was in their midst.

In the almost three years since his daughter's death, Mr Brown has become an ardent campaigner for victims' rights. Now a member of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, he is calling for harsher penalties for violent offenders and changes to the Bail Act to prevent such offenders being released while awaiting trial.

He and his wife Lynette have also given more than two years of support to Aaliyah's parents.

Mr Brown said no amount of campaigning would bring back their two daughters, but if he could change laws to prevent other families suffering the same fate, then he would.

Until now, all details of Curran's trial for Natasha Hayden's manslaughter have been suppressed.

The High Court ruled this was necessary to preserve his right to a fair trial in Aaliyah's case.

Mr Brown said it was some comfort that degrading comments Curran made about his daughter had not been made public, but he now hoped people would know the true extent of Curran's violence.