23 May 2009

DoCS took sister of starved girl: court

The Department of Community Services (DoCS) had already taken custody of a couple's youngest child before another daughter died, a jury has been told.

The parents are on trial in the NSW Supreme Court after their seven-year-old daughter was found dead at the family's Hawks Nest home, north of Newcastle, on November 3, 2007.

The court has previously heard the girl died from starvation. On Friday it was told DoCS had earlier removed an infant from the couple after it lost weight.

The married couple, a 47-year-old man and a 35-year-old woman, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, have pleaded not guilty to one count each of murder.

Giving evidence on Friday, DoCS officer Lauren Barker said she had been given the family's case file in early 2007.

She said she visited the family's home, then in the Sydney suburb of Matraville, with a colleague on April 20 that year.

Crown prosecutor Peter Barnett SC asked Ms Barker if the father had said to her: "We will leave the country before DoCS takes the children."

"Yes," Ms Barker said.

She agreed the father refused to allow her to speak to them, saying: "The children hate DoCS and refuse (to speak to you) after DoCS took their baby sister."

He also said to her: "I went to court 29 times. When our baby was removed it was all lies.

"They took her because she had lost 20 grams."

Mr Barnett said the father had also said: "(The baby) lost less than 20 grams of weight through wetting her nappy."

When the seven-year-old died, the couple also had two older daughters living with them.

A Department of Housing officer told the court the Sydney home had been infested by cockroaches.

Ms Alison Hillis went to the home on March 12 to meet the father because repairmen refused to enter the house due to its state of uncleanliness.

"(There were) cockroach infestations. The walls were filthy," Mrs Hillis told the jury.

"The stove was absolutely putrid, Beside the fridge cans and rubbish were piled up. It was just in an appalling state."

The jury also heard the NSW Education Department struggled to get the couple's children to attend school in Sydney, despite arranging transport for them.

Department home school liaison officer Gregurio Colubraile said he tried to have the now-dead child attend school and arranged transport for her after the father requested help.

"Did (the father) say he wanted the transport service?" Mr Barnett asked.

"Yes," Mr Colubraile said.

The next day, on June 20, 2006, Mr Colubraile returned to the home to say he had organised a school and transport for the child and she could start two days later.

Mr Barnett asked, did the father say: "You wouldn't believe it, there's a problem. This whole family is going to Queensland."

"Yes," Mr Colubraile said.

Meanwhile, documents presented to the trial show that the death of his daughter and the investigations by police and medical examiners barely interrupted the accused father's online gambling.

The court has heard the mother found the child dead in her bedroom around 7am on November 3 and the father woke "as usual" about 9.30am and went to his computer to check race scratchings.

He learned of the death around 11am before calling an ambulance about 1pm.

In court on Friday, Tabcorp customer account manager James Miller said he put together a report for police who had served a warrant for the information.

It covered a period from the afternoon of Thursday November 1 to Sunday, November 4.

It shows the father stopped punting just before ringing emergency services to report his daughter's death, but hopped online again shortly after police and medical examiners finished collecting evidence from the home in the early hours of November 4.

The transactions were:

November 1

2.01pm - $230 deposited into the account at Hawks Nest Golf Club.

November 2

8.34pm -$10 bet, 8.35pm -$10 bet

8.35pm -$12 and $30 credits for wins

8.36pm -$10 bet

November 3

9.49am - $5 bet, 9.51am - $15 bet

9.53am - $2 bet, 9.54am - $1 bet

10.31am -$9.30 and $24 credits for win

10.51am -$4 bet, 10.52am -$14 bet

10.53am -$6 bet

November 4

1.29am - $6 bet, 1.37am - $20 bet

1.51am - $10 bet

1.53am - $33 credit for win

2.41pm - $200 cash withdrawal from a retail outlet.

$113 wagered for a return of $108.30.

The trial before Justice Robert Allan Hulme, sitting in East Maitland, continues.

22 May 2009

Another EPIC Failure by the government.

The Government KNEW the other child was in danger.

Now all there is to do is a COVER UP to deny ANY BLAME from the government, as is standard practice.

The Headline should read:

Government kills child due to inaction.

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