‘Those days are gone’: Bowen parents left kids with 9yo son
A supermarket manager was moved to call police after a young boy went into the store alone and police later discovered the child had been left to take care of his three younger siblings.
A Bowen mum and dad have fronted court over the incident, when they left their nine-year-old son in charge of three other children, the youngest of whom was just one year old.
Police prosecutor Senior Constable Sarah Rowe told Bowen Magistrates Court on Tuesday the children - aged nine, six, four and one - were left unattended at their Bowen home in January.
Sen-Constable Rowe said police went to the home for a welfare check after the nine-year-old boy went into the Bowen IGA alone twice in one day.
The supermarket manager contacted the police because he was worried about the boy.
Police arrived at his address and found four children at home, with the eldest boy saying he was taking care of his younger siblings because his parents were out fishing.
Sen-Constable Rowe said the boy spoke on the phone to his dad, who told his son "What the f--- did you open the door to them (police) for?"
The court heard the boy's father returned home a short time later and claimed he had left to help a friend who had fallen and needed help.
Sen-Constable Rowe said police were unable to find the children's mother and the four kids were left alone for about 35 minutes.
"It is of concern that the nine year old is expected to look over these children even for a short period of time," Sen-Constable Rowe said.
Both the mum and dad pleaded guilty to four counts each of leaving a child under 12 unattended.
Lawyer Cleo Rewald appeared for the couple, who cannot be identified for legal reasons.
Ms Rewald said they were in a de facto relationship and the 26-year-old woman was the mother to all four children and did not have any criminal history.
The court heard the 29-year-old man was currently on probation.
"I have spoken to them about the importance of ensuring the children are kept well and safe," Ms Rewald said.
"It does not make for great reading and they do accept that."
Ms Rewald said it was not uncommon for other children to be seen out and about in small communities like Bowen without their parents, but it was not right.
"They are learning the important message here with supervision of their children," Ms Rewald said.
Ms Rewald said no action was being taken against the man's probation order and suggested both parents could be placed on probation so they could get some help.
During sentencing, Magistrate James Morton told the Bowen mother she ought to know better as mothers were the "spine" of a family.
"Your little child is asleep in the cot and that is good, but you left the four kids alone," Mr Morton said.
"You do not need to be parented and told these are the dos and don'ts of parenting.
"Once upon a time parents went to work all day …. and left the kids at home and come home and if the house had not burnt down it was a bonus. But those days are gone.
"There are paedophiles out in the street, there are people who do certain things.
"You have got an obligation to your children to protect them."
Mr Morton told the Bowen father if the emergency phone call was so important, he should have been more responsible.
"Your story has more holes in it than a dart board," Mr Morton said.
Mr Morton revoked the man's previous probation order and placed him on a new probation order for 12 months.
The Bowen mother was also placed on a 12-month probation order.
Neither parent had convictions recorded.