Premier confirms little girls' family known to DOCS
PREMIER Annastacia Palaszczuk has confirmed the two young girls allegedly murdered by their mother at the weekend were known to the Department of Child Safety amid claims by family and friends they tried to raise their concerns with authorities.
Darcey-Helen, 2, and Chloe-Ann, 1, were pulled unresponsive from a hot car on Saturday in Waterford West, south of Brisbane, just after 1.30pm.
It's unclear how long the girls had been in the car.
Their mother Kerri-Ann Conley, 27, faced Brisbane Magistrates Court today charged with murder and was remanded in custody.
Conley, who did not make an appearance, had her matter adjourned to Beenleigh Magistrates Court on December 11.
She did not apply for bail.
A family member of Conley yesterday claimed there were multiple attempts to alert the Department of Child Safety.
"I know of four people that made reports to them and other agencies and nothing was done. (They) just got told they would look into it and do a property check of who lived there," the family member said.
The Premier confirmed the family were known to the department and said it would conduct a child death review.
"My information is yes they had contact with Child Safety," she said.
"But also, too, I spoke to the Attorney-General just this morning and the Attorney-General, because she has responsibility for the Children and Family Commissioner Cheryl Vardon, the Attorney-General is this morning also writing to Cheryl Vardon to also conduct a thorough investigation," she said.
"As you can appreciate these matters are now before the court.
"I will not prejudice that court case."
The Premier said she was heartbroken to hear of the girls' deaths and described it as a tragedy.
The shattered father of Darcey-Helen, who he called "pumpkin", told The Courier-Mail he was devastated.
He said he was also a father figure to Chloe-Ann.
"Darcey and Chloe were loved by anyone and everyone who met them, I absolutely adored them both," the father, who asked not to be named, said.
"Darcey had a contagious laugh and Chloe really, although they were 12 months apart, wasn't really that far behind Darcey. I think she learnt a lot off Darcey, mannerisms."
He said the girls would play in his back yard, with Darcey riding a bicycle and Chloe sitting in an attached trailer.
"They just giggled all the time, the pair of them," he said.
"Darcey would start to repeat everything you were saying.
"You'd say 'come on' and she couldn't say the 'C' so it was 'tome on'. Her trying to talk was pretty funny."
"She'd sing the ABC and count. You'd go to rouse on her and go 'one' and she'd say 'two' and start counting with you.
"Chloe, every time you looked at her, she just had a smile from ear to ear.
"They were just two peas in a pod. They would have been inseparable when they got older. Unfortunately we don't get to see them grow into beautiful young people," he said.
Chloe was attempting to walk and was advanced for her age and mimicked her older sister. She was not yet talking, he said.
"She is the only kid I've ever known to constantly smile," he said.
He said Kerri-Ann loved her girls.
"If you had seen videos, photos, that I've got of Kerri-Ann and the girls mate … she adored them and they adored her," he said.
After their deaths, Detective Inspector Mark White said the young children showed exposure to extreme heat.
"We are in the process of conducting an investigation but also being mindful of the tragic circumstances," he said. "We're at a very fast-paced stage of the investigation now, we have a lot of moving parts."
The house where the girls were found remained a crime scene yesterday.
Family friend Gina McKenzie said child safety had been made aware of issues "numerous times".
Minister Di Farmer said she could not discuss an individual case when asked about the claims.
"If the department receives information that a child may be at risk, they assess and investigate that information," she said.
Ms Farmer said she was shocked when she heard what happened to the girls and wanted answers.
"That's why there are systems in place when a child dies, which include criminal investigations," she said.
"At this point, that has resulted in murder charges so I am very limited in what I can say. The Department of Child Safety will offer police any assistance they need as they continue their investigation."
The minister did not respond to questions as to whether there would be a child death case review.
A police spokeswoman said because the matter was before the courts they were unable to comment further about claims made by the family.
Another shocked friend described the girls as "two beautiful angels".
"Darcey had a very caring heart for her sister and us all and the most amazing cuddles and kisses, and just as any toddlerdoes, she liked to see how far she would get with being a bit mischievous," she told The Courier-Mail.
"Like just on Wednesday with tipping out all the pegs onto the grass whilst the washing was being hung and then playing with her sister and myself as we raced around the house pushing the bike that Chloe was sitting in and singing nursery rhymes to Chloe whilst she played in her little sprinkler in the back yard.
"Once she was done playing, and came inside, and laid upon my chest, cuddling me as she fell asleep and had a nap. She was so clever and funny.
"The smiles when I had visited the girls on Wednesday when they saw me and came running and crawling to me to give me the biggest of hugs made my heart melt."