NSW Premier demands probe into handling of mother facing attempted murder charge
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has instructed government agencies to probe their handling of a case involving a woman police allege tried to drown her two sons in the Murray River.
- Police allege the woman and her sons went fishing at the Murray River
- It is alleged she held one son under the water in an attempt to drown him
- Police have found the body of the boy
One child survived and remains in hospital. His brother’s body was pulled from the river yesterday.
The woman, aged in her 20s, has been charged with attempted murder — and further charges are expected to be laid.
The children were being cared for by their grandmother. Her lawyer Dale Brooks said there had been several “warning signs” that authorities had “missed”.
He said the family had contacted police, the Department of Family and Community Services in NSW and the Department of Corrective Services but none had replied to their inquiries.
Ms Berejiklian said the circumstances of the woman’s case would be examined.
“We’ve asked for all of our agencies to give us urgent reports on what they knew,” she said.
“We will be instigating investigations but we will be cooperating with all the authorities to get to the bottom of this.
“This is a human tragedy of the highest proportion.”
Michelle Micallef, acting assistant commissioner for Community Corrections, said she strongly denied most of the serious allegations against her staff.
“It appears our staff took reasonable steps to put appropriate services in place and to make alternative accommodation arrangements. We could not have foreseen this shocking outcome,” she said.
“We have conducted an initial review of the claims, and found no evidence for most of them. Some are still being investigated.”
Ms Berejiklian said she was “absolutely devastated” when she heard about the incident.
“I want to extend my deepest condolences to the family, I can’t imagine what they’d be going through at this time,” she said.
“I want to give them an assurance that we will make sure all of our agencies look into the matters as appropriately and as quickly as possible.”
The state’s Department of Family and Community Services said the incident had saddened staff.
“Our thoughts are with the family at this tragic and difficult time,” a spokesperson said.
The mother was extradited from Victoria to NSW on Friday night and did not appear in court at Deniliquin yesterday. She was denied bail and will return to court tomorrow.
The woman and her two sons, who are under the age of 10, went fishing in the Murray River near Moama on Thursday afternoon when the incident unfolded.
The woman allegedly asked the older boy to get into the river and dunk his head in the water, an earlier court hearing was told.
It is alleged she then held him under the water in an attempt to drown him.
The court was told the boy was able to wriggle free when his younger brother started screaming on the riverbank and the mother turned around.
On the riverbank, the older boy was mauled by a dog which was reacting to what was happening in the water and he was flown to Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital.