DOCS fail: ‘It’s beyond a f---ing joke’


A MOTHER accused of killing her young girls, who were found dead inside a hot car, is the first to be charged under a new definition of murder, which includes "reckless indifference to human life".

Kerri-Ann Conley, 27 of Waterford West, was remanded in custody after her case was mentioned in ­Brisbane Magistrates Court yesterday. She did not appear in court.

Her daughters Darcey-Helen, two, and Chloe-Ann, one, 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, but there were reports it could have been up to seven hours.

The sisters could not be revived and died at the scene.

Two-year-old Darcey-Helen Conley (left) and one-year-old Chloe-Ann Conley.
Two-year-old Darcey-Helen Conley (left) and one-year-old Chloe-Ann Conley.

Police also allege Conley was in possession of cannabis and drug-related equipment on the day her daughters died out the front of her home.

The mother is the first person to be charged under an expanded definition of murder in Queensland, which includes "reckless indifference to human life".

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday confirmed that the family was known to the

Kerri-Ann Conley with Darcey-Helen.
Kerri-Ann Conley with Darcey-Helen.

Department of Child Safety after relatives and friends told The Courier-Mail they made multiple attempts to raise concerns with authorities without seeing any action.

"I never stopped fighting to help protect those girls," a family member said. "It's sad that it's come to this and now people want to investigate it. I have no faith in the system. 

"I know of four people that made reports to them and other agencies and nothing was done."

Darcey's father said ­"issues" were raised with the department and with police before the girls' deaths.

"That's not good enough," the father, who asked not to be named, told The Courier-Mail .

"I know they can't take every call as gospel, but when there has been multiple calls about the same (family) at the same address over three months that's beyond a f---ing joke."

The Courier-Mail has been told that at least three official notifications were made to the Department of Child Safety. This includes mandatory reporting from police. The Premier confirmed an ­official child death review would be conducted.

"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.

Flowes and gifts left in front of the property where two children died in a hot car. Picture: Annette Dew
Flowes and gifts left in front of the property where two children died in a hot car. Picture: Annette Dew

Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said she was unable to comment on the involvement her department had with the family because the matter was before the court.

"I really cannot tell you anything specific," she said. "I can say that when we receive information like this we check, we check with people like doctors, we check with police, where we need to refer for family intervention we do that."

Detective Inspector Mark White said police still wanted to speak to anyone who had seen Conley or had been to her house in the last three months. A person seen in CCTV footage, understood to be a potential witness, spoke to police yesterday.

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts yesterday said the Government changed the law of murder in March.

"Instead of requiring someone to intend to kill somebody - to murder them, to butcher them - the law now says that if the death is caused by an act or omission which results in reckless indifference to life and the child dies, then the person is treated as though they are a murderer," he said.

"And eventually a Supreme Court jury is going to have to look at this to see whether the actions of the person who's been charged, amounts to reckless indifference.

"If the mother is convicted of the crime of double murder, the only sentence that can be passed is life imprisonment and she has no possibility of applying for parole until she has served a minimum of 30 years.

"The question which we as a society have to ask is: In these circumstances, is treating a potentially negligent mother, a person who has lost two children, in the same way as we would treat a paid, murdering hitman?"

Conley has had her matter adjourned to Beenleigh Magistrates Court on December 11.