Grandmother accused of trying to kill step-grandson, 11, three times


None of this sounds like multiple coincidences does it? Grandmother or not, What sort of person would allegedly and continually try to kill children in their care and not expect to be caught. I shudder to think what may of happened if this woman was not arrested prior to the festivities of tonight! She can’t be named but the dad(s) are outraged as they should be that this has been allowed to fester over several years after suspicions were first raised. More to come

(Please not this is not the same grandmother that is charged with murdering 8 family members recently. This is another tragic crime in QLD.)

 KATE KYRIACOU, THOMAS CHAMBERLIN
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Woman charged over attempted fire murders

BRISBANE’S “house of horrors” grandmother tried three times to kill her 11-year-old step-grandson – once in a fire and twice by suffocating him in his bed, police will allege.

The 58-year-old Caboolture woman will face court today charged with four counts of attempted murder, attempted arson and interfering with a corpse.

Police this month revealed they were investigating the deaths of two boys, one aged three years and the other seven months, at the Morayfield home, as well as the attempted murder of two boys, aged 11 and nine, in a fire.

WARNINGS IGNORED: Children not separated

Police will allege the 11-year-old boy woke on two separate occasions to the grandmother trying to smother him in his bed. They will claim she used a pillow and a tea towel in her attempts to murder the boy.

They said both deaths and the fire occurred when the grandmother was at the house.

It is understood investigators will rely on the boy’s version of events – a version denied by the grandmother.

Eleven year old boy involved in the incident.

Eleven year old boy involved in the incident.

Detectives yesterday confirmed they were continuing their investigations into the suspected murders of the two younger children – one being the woman’s seven-month-old grandson.

“Today is one step, there are still further steps to be taken in the investigation, so today is just one step,” Detective Acting Inspector Ben Fadian said.

The Courier-Mail can reveal police charged the woman with interfering with a corpse under the belief she lied about how and where the youngest boy died.

Police renewed their investigation into the death of the three-year-old boy, who died in July 2013 from a suspected infection, following a fire at the family’s Morayfield home on February 27.

The two older boys claimed to have been trapped inside their bedroom during a fire that broke out when they were being cared for by their grandmother. Police enlisted the help of the fire brigade to recreate the fire in an effort to determine why the boys had been unable to escape from the bedroom.

“Investigations to date show the children’s escape from the bedroom was intentionally impeded,” police said.

The seven-month-old baby who died with his grandmother and his father.

The seven-month-old baby who died with his grandmother and his father.

The father of the two older boys said he was horrified to learn the woman had been charged with attempting to murder one of his sons on three occasions.

“No one has called me,” he said. “I have no contact details for them (the boys). It’s pretty bad.”

The three-year-old boy died on July 27 after suffering flu-like symptoms. He was taken to hospital but went into cardiac arrest.

On September 27, seven months after the fire, the children’s mother found the baby boy dead in his cot.

The baby’s father at the gate to the property yesterday.

The baby’s father at the gate to the property yesterday.

The grandmother is believed to have told police she put the child to bed with a bottle the night before and got up at 2am to check on him after hearing him stir.

She said she woke at 7am to the sounds of the boy’s mother “screaming hysterically”.

The boy’s father said this month that he believed his mother was not capable of killing “anything”.

He said he woke one morning to the news his son was dead.

Yesterday, the man walked out of his house carrying a sign with the words “private property no entry”, saying he would expose “lies” and “corruption” in the case.

Police yesterday questioned the children’s mother about whether she had taken steps to protect the children.

Solicitor Tim Meehan, from Bosscher Lawyers, said the grandmother was “assisting police”.

Additional reporting Chris McMahon and Trenton Akers

Memories of laughter where there are children no more

NESTLED among stands of trees and tropical palms, at the end of a winding drive, is Brisbane’s “house of horrors”.

It’s a place where boys once laughed and played. Where a large block of garden provided endless room to run and chase. But there were no children behind the wire fence of the Morayfield home yesterday – the home where police suspect two children were murdered and another two locked in a fire.

It was once home to the children’s grandmother. Police say she was there when the three-year-old boy died.

She was there when a fire broke out inside the house, threatening two boys in their beds. And she was there when the youngest – an infant of seven months – died at night.

She was the last to see both boys alive and the only adult home when the fire started.

The woman’s son – and the father of the youngest boy – walked the neglected yard to place a sign at the property’s front gate. He said he would expose “lies” and “corruption” in the case.

In a previous interview, the man said his mother was a beautiful kind-hearted person.

“I highly believe my mother would not be capable of killing anything,” he said. “Why would she all of a sudden? She is still the same person from 20 years ago.”

The sign he held yesterday – “private property no entry” – warned media to keep away. It was a repeat of an earlier warning when a visitor threatened to assault journalists waiting in the street.

The home’s four bedrooms are no longer home to those who played and slept there. Two little boys are dead. Two older boys are now in a “safe house”.

The Courier-Mail was once invited inside, viewing the small room where the fire took hold. There was no sign of the flames the family claimed began when someone threw an object through the window.

The grandmother has denied any wrongdoing – both with the fire and the deaths of the two boys


Cops investigating murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children from same Morayfield family

Detective Acting Superintendent Damien Hansen talks to the press on the murder of two chi

Detective Acting Superintendent Damien Hansen talks to the press on the murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children at Morayfield earlier this year.

POLICE are investigating the murder of two children and attempted murder of another two children from the same family at Morayfield, on Brisbane’s northern outskirts.

Acting Detective Superintendent Damien Hansen said nobody has been charged yet.

On July 27, 2013, a three-year-old child was reported dead at the home.

On February 27, 2014, there was a suspicious fire in which another two children, aged 9 and 11, had their escape blocked.

He said the QFES has assisted in a reconstruction of the burning bedroom where the two kids where sleeping.

“Through our investigations with Queensland Fire and Rescue … forensically we are able to say the fire was deliberately lit,” Det Supt Hansen said.

“The children couldn’t open the door at the time.”

“The children were inside the room and could not exit the room.”

One of the children suffered burns to their lower limbs and was treated at the Caboolture Hospital. Both children were treated for smoke inhalation along with other occupants of the house.

Then, on 27 September, 2014, a seven-month-old was found dead.

Det Supt Hansen said the investigation escalated from police “linking all three incidents”.

“It was certainly something more than a coincidence,” he said.

He said the homicide squad was involved and the Coroner had also agreed to re-investigate the deaths as suspicious deaths.

“(They were) initially thought to be SIDS deaths,” he said.

He said the parents had been cooperative.

“I regard murder as one of the most serious offences, if not the most serious offence that can occur. To have it happen to defenceless children is just mind-boggling,” he said.

“They are all from the same family, with all the incidents occurring at the same home.”

“I can’t name the family for legal reasons or give the address but I am making an appeal that anybody who knows this family, anybody who happened to be in the Morayfield area on the evening of February 27, 2014, and saw anything suspicious … if they can contact investigators through crime stoppers.”

Police have released a video as part of the investigation, they say, “in order to bring this investigation to a close”.

Det Supt Hansen said: “We are very confident we have the right line of inquiry with this investigation and will have a conclusion in the near future.”

“The recreation of the burning bedroom is a key focus for our investigation and it is where we have developed strong leads and our main focus.”

Police say the investigation has been comprehensive and protracted and has been led by the Homicide Group with the assistance of the Child Trauma Taskforce and regional and forensic investigators.

Ex CFA trainee Brendan Sokaluk guilty of Black Saturday arson deaths-DPP APPEALS SENTENCE


DPP appeals sentence handed to Black Saturday arsonist Brendan Sokaluk

AND SO THEY SHOULD, HE SHOULD GET THAT FOR EACH DEATH, NEVER TO LEAVE JAIL.WHAT SORT OF MESSAGE DOES IT SEND? An arsonist would get the same for burning down a Bunnings store  in the middle of the night with no deaths….Extremely inadequate…

UPDATE 30/05/12

THE Director of Public Prosecutions has appealed the 17-years and nine-month maximum – with 14-year-minimum – sentence imposed on one of Victoria’s worst killers, Black Saturday arsonist Brendan James Sokaluk, arguing the jail term was “manifestly inadequate”.

The Churchill fire which Sokaluk started, by deliberately throwing burning paper out his car window on the 46.3C day, killed 10 people, destroyed 156 homes and burnt 36,000ha.

Sokaluk, 42, was found guilty by a jury of ten counts of arson causing death over the February 7, 2009 blaze and was sentenced in April by Supreme Court judge Justice Paul Coghlan.

With almost three years already spent on remand, Sokaluk, a one-time CFA volunteer, would have been eligible for parole in just over 11 years.

Each count of arson causing death carries a maximum 25 years jail.

In delivering his sentence, Justice Coghlan cited Sokaluk’s autism spectrum disorder, but said in the jury’s verdict they had dismissed his claims the fire was started by accident after Sokaluk said he used a napkin to dispose of a burning ember from his cigarette.

 

Brendan Sokaluk is taken into the Supreme Court in custody before his sentence.

Read the Royal Commission report into the Churchill blaze

Expert evidence during the trial showed the paper could only have ignited the blaze if already burning when thrown from the vehicle.

Justice Coghlan said Sokaluk also tried to divert attention by making an insurance claim on his car the day after the fire and sending an email to Crime Stoppers claiming to have seen a DSE firefighter starting the blaze.

At the time of sentencing, the judge said the law did not seek to place a value, in terms of sentence length, on each life lost.

Listen to Justice Coghlan sentence Sokaluk

“For the victims, these were and are life-changing events and no sentence that I impose can in any way compensate for their loss,” Justice Coghlan said.

“The law, through me, does not intend to put a value on a life in those terms. Each life is precious . . . not just to the victim but to the community as a whole.”

Listen to Sokaluk’s Triple-0 phone call

 

Killed were brothers David and Colin Gibson, who died defending their parents’ property at Glendonald Rd; Annette Leatham, at her daughter’s property on Cooks Rd, Callignee; Alfred Frendo and his son Scott, caught in or near their vehicles near the family home in Old Callignee Rd, Callignee; Martin Schultz, as he sought refuge in his ute in a creek bed while trying to drive from his home at Factory Rd, Callignee; and Allan and Miros Jacobs, their son Luke and Luke’s friend Nathan Charles at the Jacobs’ property at Traralgon Creek Rd, Koornalla.

The DPP appeal for a longer sentence will be heard in the Court of Appeal on a date to be fixed.

Patrick Carlyon: The boy who played with fire

 
View Sokaluk’s path of destruction in a larger map

 

Watch Brendan Sokaluk’s explosive police interview where he admits to starting the fatal Churchill blaze that killed ten people and returns…

Arsonist’s confession

A jury today found Brendan Sokaluk guilty of starting the devastating Churchill bushfire that took the lives of 10 people on Black Saturday.

It is believed no one else in the state’s criminal history has killed more people.

Sokaluk, 42, looked confused but showed little emotion when the jury foreperson announced “guilty” as each of the 10 counts of arson causing death were read out in the Supreme Court today.

Sokaluk looked round the court, chewed his lip and twitched nervously.

Victims who lost family members and friends in the inferno were in court to hear the verdict and they smiled and hugged each other.

Sokaluk will face a pre-sentence plea hearing on a date to be fixed but his lawyer announced as she left court that it was likely he would appeal the verdicts.

Asked how Sokaluk was feeling Jane Dixon SC said “Shattered, of course”.

“I think he’s a bit lost at the moment,” she said.

During the trial Ms Dixon painted a picture of a harmless individual, a “simpleton” whose autism set him apart from others in the community.

“He’s a bit of a misfit really, but nevertheless he muddled along in his own way muddled along OK with a bit of help from his mum and dad, comfortable enough with his own company, his dog, his hobbies, his obsessions,” she told the jury in her summing up.

But the Crown painted a different picture.

A man who deliberately drove to bushland and started a fire on a day that had temperatures that reached nearly 45C and ended with a 70km/h wind change that blasted the fire front across the homes of his victims.

A man who was calculating enough to lie about his reasons for being in the area, to try to cover his tracks and to point the finger at others.

The trial before Justice Paul Coghlan was told people in the Churchill area thought Sokaluk was a weirdo and called him” beanie boy” and other names and as soon as locals learned he was in the area where the bushfire erupted he became the prime suspect.

And he knew it.

Listen to Sokaluk’s 000 call

Sokaluk was questioned by police five days after Black Saturday and took part in a reconstruction of his movements on the day and in a later four-hour record of interview told detectives he had “done it accidentally”.

He gave an explanation that a piece of ash dropped from a cigarette as he was driving along a dirt road and he scooped it up in a napkin and threw it out of his car window.

This led him to believe he had started the inferno that consumed 36,000ha and destroyed 156 homes.

The case against Sokaluk was circumstantial. No one saw him light the two fires at the junction of Glendonald Rd and Jelleffs Outlet, about 3km from Churchill fire station.

Prosecutor Ray Elston SC told the jury it was the Crown case that Sokaluk tried to disguise his crime by claiming to police that it was an accident, lying about his reasons for being in the area and trying to point the finger at others.

Police managed to piece together Sokaluk’s movements on Black Saturday almost to the minute from phone records, witness accounts, shop receipts and CCTV footage.

In the morning of Sokaluk picked up his father Kazimir in his distinctive sky blue Holden HJ and the pair drove to Morwell and Traralgon, visited auto and hardware stores, had lunch at KFC and bought lottery tickets.

Kazimir Sokaluk said Brendan’s car was playing up and “running rough” but against his advice his son said he was “going up into the trees” because it was cooler there.

Sokaluk also said he wanted to get a chisel set back from a friend named Dave who lived in that area.

At 1.16 pm Sokaluk was in the IGA store in Churchill where he bought cigarettes before heading off into the Jeeralang Hills.

Within 15 minutes a fire erupted in the hills and witnesses said that in tinder dry conditions the inferno tore through the bush seawards towards Yarram.

Later in the day a devastating wind change forced the fire to burn back on itself and in the hours following 10 people died.

Sokaluk pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of arson causing death and two counts of causing a bushfire, over the blaze in Gippsland on February 7, 2009.

The Crown called 80 witnesses and its case was a mosaic of evidence that pointed to the guilt of Sokaluk.

Mr Elston told the jury the accused had no reason to be in the area that day and if he was going to see Dave, who was home, he never got there.

“Why did he travel on a dirt road to get out there?” Mr Elston said to the jury in his summing up. “Why did he drive off that dirt road on to a graded track on the south side of Glendonald Road?

“That is obviously the wrong side of the road for someone going east. He he chooses (a track) one on the right-hand side closest to the eucalypts.”

Read the Royal Commission report on the Churchill blaze

Sokaluk admitted to police he was the only person in the area just before the fire started and the jury heard a 000 call he made to report the fire and in which he told an operator “it’s getting big”.

A short distance from where the fire started Sokaluk’s car broke down and he was spotted at the side of the road by a Churchill CFA truck and then later picked up by a couple who drove him back to town.

Neighbours saw Sokaluk on his roof watching the progress of the fire and for some never explained reason he later walked back into the fire area.

A resident found him in his back yard and told him to shelter in his house a few minutes before the returning fire storm passed.

The jury saw a pathetic picture of Sokaluk with a garden hose in his hand taken by the resident.

Mr Elston said Sokaluk told a number of differing stories about his reasons for going to the hills and performed several incriminating acts, including making a false anonymous report to Crime Stoppers from his home computer blaming a DSE worker.

Ms Dixon told the jury it was a “finely balanced circumstantial case” against her client and Crown case was not “bullet proof”.

Ms Dixon said people who knew her client described him as a “lights out and no-one home” type of personality.

But the technical term was that he had autism spectrum disorder, a neuro developmental disorder which affects his communication, executive processing and his sensory perceptions.

In her summing up Ms Dixon told the jury to reject the prosecution case that Sokaluk was a calculating and cunning liar.

“Frankly Brendan Sokaluk would not be capable of calculating his way even out of a paper bag unless he had a map,” Ms Dixon said.

“He’s not retarded, he’s not dumb in that sense, but he’s certainly not in terms of autism, he’s not some Rain Man character”.

But the jury rejected the notion Sokaluk was an innocent victim of circumstance and who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He was a killer who brought death and devastation to his own community and left a vile legacy for LaTrobe Valley that will never be forgotten or erased.

Cop pleads not guilty to starting devastating fire


More than 70 homes were destroyed by the fire which swept through Roleystone and Kelmscott

It is an interesting story this one. WE could say is a cop have more a responsibility to uphold regulations like total fire bans, is he paying the price for being a cop.Or the devastation he caused means he needs to be prosecuted just like any other idiot who is outside abusing the law on a TOTAL FIRE BAN day? I am looking forward to responses on this one readers…

A Perth police officer has pleaded not guilty to starting a fire which destroyed 72 homes in the hills suburbs of Kelmscott and Roleystone.

Investigators believe sparks from an angle grinder started the February blaze.

Robert James Stevens, who was off duty at the time, has been charged with carrying out an activity in the open that could cause a fire.

A total fire ban was in place on the day of the fire.

Mr Stevens, 56, pleaded not guilty in the Armadale Magistrates Court today.

Outside the court, his lawyer Jeremy Scudds maintained his client’s innocence.

“He maintains his plea of not guilty and he looks forward to the matter being determined by the court,” he said.

He said Mr Stevens is grateful for community support. Well obviously their homes were not burnt down then!

“He does have a lot of support from the community and we thank the community for that,” he said.

A one day trial has been set down for December. Well what does that tell you?