Horrifying details have emerged of the squalid conditions two intellectually disabled teenagers were forced to live in, in a filthy home compared to something from a horror film.
Queensland Police were called to a property in Stafford in Brisbane’s north yesterday where they found a 49-year-old man dead inside, having suffered an apparent heart attack.
Officers then heard noises coming from a bedroom, its doorknob removed and replaced with a dirty spoon to keep it jammed closed, where they discovered the young men, aged 17 and 19, inside.
The boys, who suffer severe autism and are non-verbal, were naked, wearing only soiled nappies, in a distressed state and appeared to be malnourished.
Paramedics rushed the pair to Prince Charles Hospital where they are believed to be in a stable condition.
Now, serious questions have been raised about how the devastating situation was allowed to occur, with neighbours saying they pleaded with police and child safety authorities to intervene.
Today, neighbours have lifted the lid on the shocking state of the home and described the heartbreaking lives the boys lived.
The Courier-Mail newspaper said it has reviewed footage and photographs of the boys playing in a locked room with a small air mattress on the floor, surrounded by filth.
“You’d hear them screaming nearly all the time because he’d lock them in that room” a neighbour told the newspaper.
“They wouldn’t be wearing clothes, only just loaded diapers if they were lucky.
“You’d sometimes look over (the fence) and see them playing with their own faeces and pushing it through the mozzie screens.”
In another image, the boys can be seen sitting in the home’s backyard with a broken beer bottle next to them.
The neighbour has lived in the street for three years and said a number of locals had tried to get help for the children, worried about their welfare.
“I tried to reach out to police and the Department of Child Safety, but nothing was ever done,” the neighbour said.
It’s claimed that the disturbing pictures and video were taken some two years ago and passed on to authorities. The Department of Child Safety has been approached to comment.
A spokesman for Child Safety Minister Di Farmer today declined to comment and referred news.com.au to police.
A Queensland Police spokesperson didn’t respond to the claim that neighbours had contacted police about the boys’ condition, but said: “Detectives from Boondall Child Protection Investigation Unit along with other government agencies are working together around the circumstances surrounding the care of two teenage boys with special needs discovered when emergency services attended a Stafford house yesterday.”
A furious neighbour quoted Ms Farmer’s remarks yesterday, when she described the situation as “horrific”.
“If you think the situation was horrific, where was the department to give support and to help them?” she told The Courier-Mail.
A local told the Daily Mail that Child Safety “needs a kick up the ass because they haven’t been checking on him, clearly”.
“If they were helping, this might not have happened.”
Another neighbour, who knew the father, told the ABC that he kept chickens in the kitchen and said the house “stunk”.
“The boys were always locked in the room, the door was kicked in and there were chickens in the house,” he said.
Pictures from the backyard of the home show items strewn everywhere, including children’s toys, clothes, an old microwave and paint buckets.
The father had been caring for the boys on his own for more than a decade and his health had deteriorated significantly in recent years, according to reports.
A neighbour who used to babysit the children when they were younger, but hadn’t seen them in many years, told the Daily Mail that she confronted the father after hearing about concerns for their welfare from others.
“He said, ‘Of course I’m not doing anything like that’,” she told the website. “I think he might’ve just been too ashamed to admit he couldn’t look after them anymore.”
The man was not “a monster” but a victim too, she insisted.
Upset locals gathered outside the home today, with one pinning a note on the front fence that read “We will miss you Paully”.
Last night, Ms Farmer’s office provided a brief statement to news.com.au about the situation that read: “Hearing about events like this in our community is never easy. My thoughts are with these two young men who are getting the support and care they need.”
Queensland Deputy Premier Steven Miles this morning said the discovery of the situation was “tragic”.
“Obviously, just based on what I’ve seen in the media reports, this is particularly tragic, heart-wrenching and no doubt will be investigated in detail, both the Child Safety response as well as what’s happened here,” Mr Miles said.
The shocking incident comes in the same week that police found the body of Willow Dunn inside her home in Cannon Hill in Brisbane.
Queensland Police alleged the four-year-old, who had Down syndrome, starved to death, with her decomposing body found in her bed.
Police allege her body had been there for days.
Her father, Mark James Dunn, 43, has been charged with murder.