Family horrors before baby deaths: report

A mother (left) and grandmother of two dead infants … engaged in family drug use. (file).A grandmother dealing ice, shootings at the family home and a child being burnt with a “crack pipe” are just some of the horrors child protection workers ignored before two babies died, a coroner has been told.

An inquest is examining the sudden deaths of two half-sisters, known as BLGN and DG, who were three months and 19 days old respectively when they died in 2014 and 2015.

An internal report reveals the NSW child welfare department failed to remove the children despite tragic accounts of entrenched family drug use, neglect, homelessness and violence spanning generations that ended with the infants’ death.

The review, ordered after BLGN’s death, found the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) received four “risk of significant harm” reports for BLGN during her short life, and 13 for her two older siblings.

Despite the dangers escalating over several years, FACS didn’t intervene, and BLGN’s case was dropped altogether due to “competing priorities”.

The documents tendered to Glebe Coroners Court show her young ice-addict mother, known as AC, had a troubled upbringing and attempted suicide by jumping onto railway lines as a teenager.

“There were reports about (AC) being sexually assaulted by a group of males, using drugs and about her involvement in criminal activity,” the report said.

During 2010 her one-year-old son, KD, had allegedly been found chewing on a pouch of “drugs and broken cigarettes” in the family home from where the grandmother allegedly dealt ice.

In January 2011 there was a shooting at the “known drug house” where AC struggled with two men over a gun on her front lawn and a fired shot hit a neighbour’s home.

A Mission worker reported the house was filthy, with no food and rubbish everywhere, but by 2013 the mother was living out of her car with her two toddler boys.

The month BLGN was born in January 2014, her mother did a stint in jail, court documents show.

By February an anonymous caller told a FACS helpline the mother was smoking ice in front of her children and that her five-year-old boy KD had burned himself on a “crack pipe”.

The review found KD may have had a learning disability, and both the mother and grandmother could often be heard screaming at him and calling him names.

The review acknowledged the department’s repeatedly inadequate responses but blamed the dysfunctional family’s transience and understaffing.

“Managing competing priorities within the context of finite resources is one of the most enduring challenges in child protection work,” the report said.

Earlier on Wednesday, the family’s drug dealer flatly denied allegations from his ex-mistress that he killed BLGN the night before she was found unmoving in her cot, with the woman admitting she had been high on ice at the time and had no evidence to prove her claims.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.