Representation. A police line. SimaGhaffarzadeh/Pixabay


  • A baby in Australia died in his family's home in November 2018
  • The residence was overcrowded and littered with feces, among other things
  • Descriptions detailing the home's state will be revealed at a Tuesday inquest

An Australian baby died in a feces-littered and cockroach-infested home even after child protection authorities received nearly two dozen notifications regarding his family's circumstances, a court was told.

The 11-week-old child died in November 2018, ABC reported.

He and his older siblings supposedly had been the subject of 23 notifications to South Australia's Department for Child Protection (DCP) prior to the death.

These notifications were related to the squalid conditions of the family's home, Sally Giles, a senior counsel to the state coroner, said during a hearing in Coroners Court last week.

"Notifications include details of the mother lacking maturity and parenting skills, various concerns about the unhygienic home environment, in particular about feces being found in the hallway of the home, and the home being overcrowded with 10 people living at the address at one point," she said.

Despite being offered support from the DCP, the children's mother did not engage with services and their home remained "squalid and unsuitable for children," according to Giles.

The counsel described the rooms in the residence as smelling of "feces, urine and rotting food."

A number of descriptions of the home are to be provided at a Tuesday inquest, which Giles said "will detail there being feces on the flood, rotten food in the pantry, on the floor and on the stove in the kitchen."

"Several baby bottles which contained putrid liquid which appeared to be curdled milk, no food in the fridge, a small amount of food in the pantry, but which was infested with cockroaches, a baby formula tin which was open in the kitchen surrounded by dead flies, soiled nappies in the cot," she added.

Such an environment placed the children at "risk of both physical and psychological harm and was not considered to be adequate in relation to what is necessary for optimum child health and wellbeing," the court heard a pediatrician say.

In addition to describing the state of the family's home, Giles also said that the father of one of the children had threatened to kill their mother.

There were also "concerns about drug use by a male in the family home and concerns about the mother's mental health, including post-natal depression," she added.

The deceased child's surviving siblings remain in the care of their mother, who was described as having "longstanding mental health" concerns.

She has made significant improvements since the death of her son, the court heard.

The mother was spared from jail earlier this year and released on good behavior bond after she admitted to neglecting her children and pleaded guilty to three counts of failing to provide necessary food, clothing and accommodation.

In his reasons for suppressing the identities of the family, state coroner David Whittle said the mother's parenting capacity was already fragile and any publicity would cause her more hardship.

The surviving children, who were likely to be "fragile," were also the victims of their mother's neglect, and protecting their identities would "insulate" them from re-victimization, according to Whittle.

"I have no difficulty in concluding that they would be subject to undue hardship if a [suppression] order is not made," Whittle said.

A coronial inquest starting Tuesday will hear "extensive evidence" of the family's history with the DCP.

A crime scene
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