EXCLUSIVE: True Crime News Weekly has been given extensive insight into a serious child abuse case which demonstrates seeming negligence by a range of government institutions.
A young child has evidently been physically abused by his mother, with medical records, witness accounts and even police interviews supporting this claim.
However, all related institutions have failed to act in a case which has been going on for over eight years. Now, a grandmother speaks out and is blaming Prime Minister Scott Morrison for ignoring her. Aidan Satz investigates.
Carol is a concerned grandmother to a young boy by the name of Aaron*. It is Carol’s honest belief that her daughter-in-law, Rebecca, who has full custody of the child, has physically abused the boy on a number of occasions dating back to 2013. All of these injuries have been to Aaron, and he has suffered permanent damage from the abuse.
Carol has made over 100 notifications to the local Family and Child Services (FACS) and claims “they have never taken any action to assist my grandson”. She further states that the police listed the child as “a child at serious risk of harm” 17 times and yet still have failed to take action.
Rebecca’s sister worked for social services at one time. So there is the possibility of corruption or manipulation in regard to the case, with Carol stating that “possibly she had pulled strings”.
Rebecca is also alleged to have defrauded Centrelink and Medicare by lying about her son’s medical conditions. True Crime News Weekly has received ample evidence to support these claims as Rebecca has gone to multiple medical professionals claiming her son Aaron has ADHD, autism and asthma so that she can qualify for the carer’s pension.
Carol’s son and Aaron’s father, Paul, claims his ex-partner Rebecca has deliberately misled medical professionals.
“She has fabricated symptoms and diagnoses of asthma and autism in Aaron,” he said.
A letter from the boy’s father detailing Rebecca’s alleged manipulation of medical professionals (Image: Supplied)
The family fears for the safety of Aaron and believes that Rebecca may have manipulated several institutions and as such is unfit to have custody of the child.
Due to the unwillingness of FACS to provide support, Carol went to the police in search of help. The police have been in contact with Carol and are highly informed of the situation dating back to 2013, however they too have not been able to take any action against the person Carol says has abused her grandson.
The case was originally assigned to Detective Paul Connery in 2015, of the Lake Illawarra Police who arranged a Joint Investigation Response Teams (JIRT) interview with the child. When the family asked for a copy of the interview to take to the family court, the police were unable to supply the video.
The police were subpoenaed several times after September 2015, yet they never supplied the Family Court with the interview.
Carol tells True Crime News Weekly that in May 2018, her solicitor had emailed and called the detective multiple times and Detective Connery eventually admitted that he had failed to comply with the subpoena to produce the recorded video to the Family Court.
The interview was eventually supplied over three years later.
In this video interview the following exchange took place:
This investigation was reviewed by Detective Graham Lockhart of JIRT Wollongong in 2016.
Detective Lockhart organised a second JIRT interview as a result of leading Sydney paediatric neurosurgeon Dr. Erica Jacobson’s Risk of Serious Harm notification to FACS on the 12th December 2016. The notification came after Dr Jacobson had examined Aaron and viewed his MRI results showing five permanently injured discs in Aaron’s neck.
The case however continued to gain no real traction as the detective worked with both parties in an ‘attempt’ to solve the case.
Aaron’s older brother has claimed that Detective Lockhart told Rebecca: “There is nothing to worry about. We are just going through the motions”.
Detective Lockhart also told Paul, Aaron’s father: “Sometimes we know someone did something, but we can’t prove it”.
The case was yet again passed on to another detective, Tanya Byrne-Hickman.
Carol had reported the case to the NSW Police Minister out of desperation, who then passed the case on to the police commissioner and eventually found its way to Detective Byrne-Hickman.
In a transcribed conversation between Carol, Paul and Detective Byrne-Hickman from June 2020, there is evidence of clear police negligence and incompetence. The detective reviewing the case mixed up names, missed out on key information and failed to confirm that the mother had a serious mental health condition.
Despite ample evidence of the abuse of Aaron, including confirmation of permanent neck injury, eyewitness reports and the JIRT interview with Aaron, Detective Byrne-Hickman claimed that there was not enough evidence. They needed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that these injuries happened, the Detective told Aaron’s father.
This conversation was the last time the detective was in contact with Paul and failed to respond to emails and phone calls following this interaction.
In a court affidavit, there was a recount of when Detective Byrne-Hickman had gone to the home of Rebecca to interview her about her son. Rebecca reportedly started to cry, and the police officer eventually waited for her to calm down, “asked a few questions” and then soon after left.
There is ample evidence detailing the alleged abuse from medical professionals. This information was compiled in a letter to the Police Commissioner by Lisa Munro, a lawyer who was hired on behalf of Aaron’s father, Paul.
This letter details that “there is substantial medical evidence that Aaron suffered a serious neck injury”. True Crime News Weekly also has copies of medicals reports which confirm the injuries to Aaron’s neck.
One of the many medical specialists confirming injuries to the boy (Image: Supplied)
The letter details that: “Any suggestion that the evidence against Aaron’s mother is incapable of sustaining a criminal charge is in essence an assertion that Aaron is not a credible or reliable witness”.
Munro wrote in the letter that Paul had simply acted as any concerned parent.
“Given the evidence we have outlined, and we join with him in his plea to the State Crime Command to commence an investigation and if the evidence is sufficient, to proceed with criminal charges,” Munro wrote to police.
The Police Commissioner claimed that there was “insufficient evidence” from Detective Byrne-Hickman’s review so they could not take any further action. That was in spite of the letter from Lisa Munro, the medical records, and the eyewitness testimonies from Aaron’s family, including from Aaron himself.
Amanda Prosser – a former police detective and current child abuse whistle-blower who has investigated the case deeply – contradicted this statement by claiming that: “There is more than enough evidence to put this matter before a court”.
When approached for comment, NSW Police told True Crime News Weekly the case was only closed after being deeply investigated by a dedicated team.
“Lake Illawarra Detectives have investigated reports of alleged historical child abuse, with investigations subsequently reviewed by the Child Abuse Squad, which found no further action can be taken,” a police spokesperson told True Crime News Weekly.
“As the claim of alleged perjury relates to Family Law Court, it would be inappropriate for NSW Police to comment, as it is outside of our jurisdiction.”
Final Cry for Help
There is one more twist to this long-running family saga of alleged abuse. Following the alleged failure of multiple police detectives and FACS to act upon the calls for help, in a last act of desperation Aaron’s father moved into Scott Morrison’s electorate of Cook. Paul was hoping to speak to the PM about the case.
Indeed, in July 2019 Paul and his family physically went into the prime minister’s electoral office in Sydney’s south to detail all the information and to try and get it relayed to ScoMo.
The family was in contact with an employee who was extremely concerned about the case after they were passed on the information. However, approximately a week after the meeting with ScoMo’s staff, an employee then contacted Carol sounding extremely distressed.
“I am very sorry,” the staffer told Carol. “Scott isn’t going to do anything.”
After ScoMo and his office had ignored the family’s plea for help, Morrison’s office then passed the issue onto the member of Miranda, Eleni Petinos. ScoMo’s staffers told Paul and his family that the state MP “can make representations to F&CS on your behalf” and they had “sent all the files and information to her”.
True Crime News Weekly contacted Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office by writing for a response to this story but we did not hear back.
Carol, who is disappointed and angry at ScoMo and his administration, told True Crime News Weekly that “your member of Parliament is supposed to represent the people of the electorate, and he did nothing”.
That ScoMo and his office have failed to act on the case may perhaps come as no surprise to our readers who may be familiar with the Prime Minister’s close relationship with Brian Houston.
Houston, the former head of Hillsong Church and ScoMo’s former “spiritual mentor” was criminally charged for allegedly concealing sexual abuse of a child by his father, of which he became aware in the 1990s. In March 2022, he stepped down as the global senior pastor of the evangelical church, after he was found to have breached the moral code of the church in his behaviour with two women.
Carol tells True Crime News Weekly that she believed Morrison and his office had a duty to report the information she provided to senior police for a proper review. All adults in NSW are required to report information to Police if they “know, believe or reasonably ought to know that a child (under 18 years) has been abused”.
ScoMo would conceivably argue that he had no responsibility as police at some other earlier time had looked at the case. That might get him off by the letter of the law but are those the actions of a real leader?
This case could represent a failure of a range of government institutions including social services, the police, and political offices. There has been seeming evidence of negligence and incompetence across these institutions and the life of a young boy could still be in some possible danger.
Speaking from her home on the south coast of NSW, Carol says that the case was “all brushed under the carpet” and that her daughter-in-law “has gone far beyond what any other woman would get away with”.
The aching grandmother and her family say they want nothing more than fair justice for the young boy and to make sure that he is simply safe.
* Not his real name
Additional reporting and research by Serkan Ozturk