19 Jun 2008, Comments Off on Babysitting redux

Babysitting redux

Author: Helen

When a couple is so dysfunctional, so mad or evil and stupid, as to starve their twin toddlers to death in their own house (besides letting the preschoolers roam free in the street begging for scraps), guess which member of the equally culpable pair is made to carry the can, even now, in the 21st century?

Their father, a senior manager on a major city road project, claimed he had not seen or cared for the twins for six months despite living in the same house.

Lawyers for the man argued there is not enough evidence to support a murder charge because he did not have responsibility for the childen’s care.

There are no words.

Comments (0)

  • Oz Ozzie says:

    There are no words. But hope the guy carries the can as well

  • tigtog says:

    There is at least a remote possibility that this case might enshrine in common law the idea that it is not a reasonable defence for a father to claim that he is unaware of the child-care necessities for his own children while living in the same house.

  • […] Helen on the Balcony says all that nees to be said. […]

  • R.H. says:

    Tw bbs hv bn strvd t dth nd y wnt gndrbsd crtq.

    Fr gdnss sk.

    Y lntc.

    [Edit “Robbert”: There are a few kindly bloggers who still let you meander and spew and froth all over their threads, but I’m not one of them. I like to think this blog is for people who read for a certain level of comprehension. Don’t let the door hit you on the bum on your way out.]

  • Amanda says:

    I choked when I heard that on the news too. That’s his lawyers, and they would say that wouldn’t they, so with tigtog I hope the law itself has something to say in reply when the time comes.

  • Helen says:

    I hope the law itself has something to say in reply when the time comes.


  • Shaun says:

    For ffs, how can being a father absolve you from responsibility for your children? The state of the relationship with their mother is no excuse especially when still living in the same house.

  • kate says:

    Pretty insulting to all those fathers who think it’s not so emasculating to, gosh, say hello to the kids when they get home from work, or stick a bowl of weetbix in front of them in the morning. FFS the next door neighbour seems to have taken more responsibility for these kids (you know, just because she was an adult in the community where they lived) than their actual parents.

  • That was his lawyers submission/argument for bail but as far as I can see both parents have been detained and both have exactly the same charges and therefore, so far, been treated the same under the law.

  • Anastasiya says:


    Wasn’t there a similar case in Birmingham England not long ago?

  • Mark says:

    FXH may be right that the argument was made by the lawyers for bail etc, but can you imagine the lawyers not putting it to the client first?

    You can imagine they would have said to him, “We’ll make it out you had no responsibility for the kids as you were too busy working and your relationship with the mum had broken down, and you could get bail or have the charges dropped”, and I’m sure you could have seen the father’s eyes light up at the idea of getting off!

    Take note that the police prosecutor rejected that argument outright at said the father would have to walk past the twins’ bedroom each day to get to bed or go to work.

    And yes, both were charged, and now the charges have been upgraded to torture and murder.

    And no, I agree, being a father – even an absent, distant, uninvolved, separated, self-absorbed, selfish or idiotic one – is no reason to absolve one from responsibility for ones children. Even the law recognises a most rudimentary measure of that – after all, there is such a thing as child support.

  • Helen says:

    Yes, as lawyers’ arguments go, it’s an ambit claim, I guess. I just thought it was interesting and horrifying that such an argument could even be raised in the first place in 2008. Most younger dads are completely giving the lie to that mindset (as you would know, Mark!)

  • Mark – I’d imagine in this case the client put the argument to the lawyer first.

    “I had nothing to do with it – I just slept there – came back after the pub each night and flaked it – got up next day went to work – end of story”

  • In case it’s not clear I’d hold them both equally responsible. But other facts may emerge – at the moment its all headlines and hot air.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the post. Well said.

  • Docwitch says:

    They’d never dare dream up such a defence for the mother. It just wouldn’t occur to any legal rep to do so. It would be too outrageous. No one would buy it.

    It says a lot about the wider culture if anyone can think it’s any less outrageous to apply this defence to a father domiciled with his family. However disengaged (for want of a better word) he may be.

  • Ariel says:

    I read that article, too. It’s been haunting me ever since, actually. One of the most horrible things I’ve ever read. The case and the lawyers’ argument. And the fact he hadn’t seen his kids for six months and obviously didn’t care (if that’s even true). And somehow thought he had no responsibility whatsoever for those kids. Just the insight that gives into the life of the house and the thinking of the parents. How can a person think that way?

    And that Child Services were contacted before the twins were born, to no avail. Particularly chilling.

  • Bernice says:

    Regardless of his legal obligations as both a parent AND that certainly under Child Protection legislation he would be required to report his spouse, its a fundamental ethical failing of care for the children and his partner.
    Reports indicate they were “estranged”, though not estranged enough to be living apart. She appears from media reports to have been suffering from post-natal depression. He and any one else who had contact with this woman ethically failed to engage with that, and the appalling fallout is as much our responsibility as the mother’s.
    If you’re Aboriginal every f***ing whitefella has the god-given right to poke, pry and opinionate about your supposed lack of parenting skills, to prescribe your actions and choices ’cause whitefellas know best, but if you’re white and middle class – hell child services wont even pay you a visit. The rights of children seem to matter only when a part of the political castes can use them to achieve a desired outcome for their own political agendas. The support for women and families struggling with parenting responsibilities is poorly resourced, under-funded, and a long way from the entrenched interests of our political leaders.

  • Bwca says:

    Bravo Bernice.

    I hope PLU are on The Jury.

    There is NO excuse possible.
    This type of news always makes my heart break for the people who WANT to love children and cannot have their own.
    Any of them would have treasured those babies instead of starving them.

  • blue milk says:

    Such a great post!

  • Helen says:

    That’s a very nice thing to say about such a dive-in-brief-comment-and-link post, BlueM. Thank you.
    Bwca, that’s a whole ‘nother pile of heartache… and Bernice too. Remember when you didn’t have to make an appointment with the Maternal and Child health nurse and you could just wander in and have a chat about something that was worrying you? Then Jeff Kennett came along.

    /Ancient rambling

  • David says:

    From what little I’ve gleaned from the news on this, the father sounds even more culpable than the mother – it sounds horribly as though she was deep in chronic depression, and scarcely capable of looking after herself, let alone her kids. Apparently you don’t have to take any responsibilty for your children if you spend every afternoon after work down at the pub. I hope they throw the book at the bastard.

  • Helen says:

    Just in case we think all this is a bit obvious, check out the two comments I just got from a person who will be consigned to the spam bucket – but I’ll post them here so you can see that some people seriously do advance this argument (and others of dubious merit)!

    Comment 1

    So you are all convinced that his inability to make breast milk is a crime ?

    Comment 2

    Further, you will notice that the other kids didn’t know the babies were sick.

    I dont see anyone saying they should be arrested. I dont get it. Its a perfectly reasonable defense. He wasnt a primary care giver. He had no reason to feel he was reasonable for the kids welfare.

    Sheer trolly brilliance!

  • matilda says:

    I was about to write a post saying “since u wrote this story there’ve been another 2 disturbing instances of child neglect, malnutrition & god-knows-what-else publicised. What are we doing to our children?’ Then i read the 2 above troll posts. I feel worse now. Callousness abounds. Defence of the ‘husband’ implies heartlessness about the kids’ fatal neglect. Why is this happening? Why do people who don’t even like kids/ or who can’t cope, have so damn many of them? Seems like a valid reason for stopping Sole parents benefit after 3 kids. Never thought i’d say that, but there you are.

  • […] Reading lefty blogs all the time, you can get the impression that we’ve made some good progress with equal parenting – but then sections of the Law and media have other ideas. Why do people use the word “babysitting” when referring to a father looking after his own children? Blogger on the Cast Iron Balcony makes a grim point about which parent is held responsible for the deaths of children. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Down Under Feminists Carnival Number 1Send me your postsParenting puzzleSeven Words Most Often Used by Women […]

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