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mother murdered child

Feb 042010
 

HIS greatest fear was that his estranged wife would take his children from their home in a tiny, snowy town in Canada, and run away to Australia.

So scared was he of losing them, he’d taken their passports and hidden them away.

The effort was in vain: Curtis McConnell, 31, of Millet, near Edmonton in Alberta, on Tuesday entered the house he once shared with his infant children to find something so much worse.

According to local reports, his wife, Allyson Louise McConnell, formerly of Gosford on the NSW central coast, had not taken the children.

She had allegedly drowned them in the bathtub and left their bodies in the water, for him to find.

Mr McConnell pulled the children – Connor, 2, and Jayden, 10 months – from the tub.

He rushed blindly to a neighbour’s house, but she could see that it was just too late.

Mrs McConnell, maiden name Meager, wasn’t at the scene.

According to reports, she had driven to a local Toys R Us, abandoned her husband’s Chrysler sedan in the car park, and then thrown herself from an icy bridge on to a busy freeway. She survived and is being treated in hospital.

The couple had been involved in a bitter custody battle over the boys. Court documents revealed Mrs McConnell wanted to bring them to Australia to live with her mother, Helen, in Gosford.

Mr McConnell wanted them to stay in Millet, population 2100, which is about 50km from Edmonton, where his family has lived for generations, and where the children were born.

In December, a judge had banned Mrs McConnell from leaving the country, and ruled that the children should stay in Canada on an interim basis, while the matter was being sorted out.

Canada has a shared parenting law similar to Australia’s, although the role played by parents before separation carries greater weight.

An affidavit lodged with the Court of Queens Bench, Alberta, dated December 10 last year, says the couple met in Canada in November 2005, when Allyson was in Canada on a work visa. They married in NSW on Australia Day, 2007.

Allyson got Canadian residency in April 2007 and the couple moved to a house on 52nd Street in Millet about a year ago.

According to the affidavit, Mr McConnell “noticed our relationship began deteriorating in approximately September 2009 when the respondent told me that she was not happy. We attempted marriage counselling, but that was not successful.

“Notwithstanding, we have been parenting our children equally in the same household.”

Until last month Mr McConnell was sleeping in the basement. He was paying $657 in monthly child support and, according to Curtis, he was as much responsible for caring for the children as his wife, waking them each morning and getting them ready for the day before he worked an afternoon shift at a hardware store.

“She has been threatening me that she wants to move back to Australia with our children,” Mr McConnell said in his affidavit.

“I am completely opposed to this and I am fearful that she will attempt to do this without my consent or knowledge.”
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/dad-finds-children-dead-in-bathtub/story-e6frg6nf-1225826515821

Sep 132009
 

Child abuse is rising dramatically in Australia, according to the first in-depth study to be released on the issue in a decade.

Data shows cases of abuse against children rose more than 50 per cent between 2006 and 2008.

In the 37 per cent of cases in which a parent was the perpetrator, mothers were responsible for 73 per cent of abuse cases while fathers were the cause of 27 per cent.

The data, the first of its kind to emerge since 1996 and obtained under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws, was compiled by the Western Australia Department of Child Protection.

The figures present a disturbing snapshot of soaring child abuse and its perpetrators. Experts say the data can accurately be applied across Australia.

Applications under FoI for similar data from all other states were refused.

The statistics come as the Federal Government has signalled it may roll back the “shared parenting” amendments to the Family Law Act, brought in under the Howard government to give fathers greater access to their children in custody battles.

The data shows fathers are most responsible for sex abuse against children – accounting for more than 85 per cent of cases.

But mothers carry out more than 65 per cent of cases of emotional and psychological abuse and about 53 per cent of physical abuse. They are also responsible for about 93 per cent of cases of neglect.

There were 1,505 cases of abuse of children in WA in 2007-08 – 427 of them were carried out by mothers and 155 by fathers.

In other cases in which the gender of the perpetrator was determined, 463 cases were carried out by women and 353 by men.

A comparison with 2005-06 data shows the number of total cases of abuse had risen more than 50 per cent from 960. In 2005-06, mothers carried out 312 acts of abuse and fathers 165.

University of Western Sydney lecturer Micheal Woods said the findings “undermined the myth that fathers were the major risk factor for their children’s wellbeing”.

“While there are some abusive fathers, there are in fact a larger proportion of violent and abusive mothers,” Mr Woods said.

Sunday Herald Sun (Melbourne)
13 September 2009, Page 35

By Laurie Nowell

Jul 302009
 

Dads not the Demons

Recent data from the Department of Child Protection in Western Australia has debunked a common misconception about fathers and violence. The data shows that natural mothers are far more likely to abuse children than their natural fathers, other than in sexual abuse, where mothers were responsible for only 13% of cases. The past practice of lumping together de factos, live-in boyfriends and overnight male guests together with fathers as “male carers” has led to skewed beliefs about who abuses children. In releasing these recent figures that identify natural fathers separately, the DCP has provided a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children.

The figures – obtained under Freedom of Information provisions – provide a clearer picture of who is likely to abuse children in families. The data show that there were 1505 substantiations of child abuse in WA during 2007-8. Natural parents were responsible for 37% of total cases. Of these, mothers are identified as the perpetrator of neglect or abuse in 73% of cases, including over 50% of cases of physical abuse. The accompanying graph shows the breakdown of parents responsible for each form of abuse.

Image:Dads not the Demons

Micheal Woods, an academic from the University of Western Sydney, said:

“The data is not surprising – it is in line with international findings regarding perpetrators of child abuse. And the figures do undermine the myth that fathers are the major risk for their children’s well-being”.

The release of this data is timely, and shows the need for solid evidence in developing legislation and policies affecting families. Recently, some radical groups have attacked the Family Court for its role in encouraging shared parenting after separation, claiming that this placed children at risk from violent fathers. Selected instances where fathers have harmed children were used to suggest that this is a common occurrence, and that shared parenting legislation placed children at increased risk.

However, this newly available information demonstrates that while there are some abusive fathers, there are in fact a larger proportion of violent and abusive mothers. This should not mean that children are automatically placed into the care of fathers to reduce risks of abuse, but rather that unrepresentative anecdotes of violent fathers should not influence legislation and policies designed to protect children. The difficult task faced by the Family Court in trying to ensure the best interests of children should not be compounded by irrational fear mongering, but rather by a considered examination of the evidence. Shared parenting may be inconvenient for one parent, or even unwanted, but with changing social roles many more men after separation want to be actively involved in their children’s lives. And in the vast majority of cases, their children will be very safe in their care.

Prof Micheal Woods, University of Western Sydney