The Horrifying Last Days of Little Charlie: Officials under fire after 6-yr-old dies of UTTER NEGLECT
The family was already known to at least three government agencies, including the Department of Child Protection, court documents indicated
Court documents have revealed how authorities let a six-year-old girl to stay at a residence despite being exposed to drug abuse and domestic violence before she died from suspected malnutrition.
The child, identified only as Charlie, was found unresponsive early Friday morning, July 15, at her family's housing commission home in the northern Adelaide suburb of Munno Para. She was rushed to Lyell McEwin Hospital but died soon after. Charlie's home was reportedly strewn with old toys, boxes, and electric appliances. Her death has sparked a major crimes investigation and led her six siblings — aged eight, 10, 13, 14, 15, and 29 — to be taken into the care of the state as their mum is investigated for criminal neglect. However, the family was reportedly already known to at least three government agencies, including the Department of Child Protection, court documents indicated.
Charlie and her siblings reportedly witnessed their drug-addled father stab their mother multiple times at their home in January last year. Authorities, however, did not remove the children from the home despite the disturbing attack and their father's history of domestic violence and drug abuse. Charlie's aunt Bec tore into the media outside the home on Tuesday, July 19, when reporters asked how the mother was feeling. "How do you think she's feeling? Her daughter just died in her arms! Of course, she's upset," she fumed.
BREAKING: A major Police investigation & government review is underway into the criminal neglect death of 6 yo Munno Para girl Charlie.— Hannah Foord (@HannahFoord7) July 19, 2022
Neighbours say her death was avoidable & that called the authorities several times with concerns.
More to come. @7NewsAdelaide pic.twitter.com/2OQ42mz0nO
Bec recounted how she saw little Charlie as she lay dying on the floor, wearing a nappy, white as paper, and stone cold. She said she didn't know the cause of death, whether she was fatally choked or if she had health issues no one knew about. Nonetheless, she revealed that no one saw the child for weeks before she died as she was suffering from a mystery illness. The devastated aunt also noted that the girl and her siblings never looked healthy, saying they often had head lice which she tried her best to help with.
"After a while, she came over less and less, and then she wasn't allowed to come over and play with my two-year-old daughter, and she wasn't allowed to leave the house," Bec said, adding that other children in the neighborhood who used to play with Charlie also didn't see her in the days leading up to the tragedy. Bec remembered Charlie as a shy, "beautiful" girl who was always smiling and carried around a pink teddy bear. The little girl used to ride around the yard on her children's bike with her aunt's toddler, who she loved. Bec said Charlie had been failed by the "system" and that the Department of Child Protection did not do enough to save her.
Police responded to the home eighteen months ago when Charlie's father attacked her mother, who was with him for 18 years. The altercation took place while he was reportedly under the influence of methylamphetamine. The father was originally charged with attempted murder but eventually pleaded guilty to a lower offense of causing harm with intent. In March, he was sentenced to five years and six months in prison with a non-parole period of three years and six months. Four years ago, he was also sentenced to aggravated assault for slapping the same victim across the face. Investigators are now probing what interactions the authorities had with the family in the years leading up to Charlie's death.
According to SA Deputy Police Commissioner Linda Williams, the six-year-old living conditions were "poor" but it was too early to determine if her death was preventable. Meanwhile, she couldn't confirm the last time Charlie had attended school. That said, a special task force has been put together to probe the incident and the circumstances that led up to it, the Daily Mail reported.