LIT­TLE BOY LOST

Warn­ings ig­nored be­fore mum killed son

Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - RE­BEKAH CAVANAGH

THE heart­bro­ken grand­mother of a boy killed by his mother says he would still be alive if au­thor­i­ties hadn’t ig­nored re­peated calls for help.

Grandma Robyn Con­nor says the light from her life is gone af­ter her men­tally ill daugh­ter drowned her grand­son Eli, 5, and tried to kill his older brother Ryan, 9, in the Mur­ray River last year.

She said de­spite re­peated calls for help and alert­ing au­thor­i­ties to warn­ing signs she was al­ways fobbed off.

“This should never have hap­pened. I feel so let down by au­thor­i­ties,” she said.

The mum, Brit­tany Lu­cas, 28, was last week found not guilty on the ground of men­tal illness of her son’s mur­der and on an at­tempted mur­der charge for her other son.

THE heart­bro­ken grand­mother of a boy killed by his mother says he would still be alive if au­thor­i­ties hadn’t ig­nored re­peated calls for help.

Robyn Con­nor says the light from her life is gone af­ter her men­tally ill daugh­ter drowned five-year-old Eli and tried to kill nine-year-old Ryan in the Mur­ray River last year.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to the Sun­day Her­ald Sun, Mrs Con­nor re­vealed how her re­peated calls for help to pro­tect her grand­chil­dren from their mother fell on deaf ears.

“I just felt in­vis­i­ble,” the grand­mother said. “This should never have hap­pened. I feel so let down by au­thor­i­ties.”

Mrs Con­nor, 67, hopes a coro­ner will un­cover how po­lice, Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices and Fam­ily and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices failed to heed the warn­ings.

“We hope that a for­mal in­quest might be able to re­view the role of the agen­cies who were re­spon­si­ble for the pro­tec­tion of the chil­dren — and pre­vent such a terrible out­come from hap­pen­ing ever again,” she said.

Mrs Con­nor said the only thing that keeps her go­ing through what has been a “pro­foundly dif­fi­cult” time is her sur­viv­ing grand­son.

“I will never get over the events of Eli’s death,” she said. “The light in our lives has gone out. We have so many deeply painful and sear­ing mem­o­ries of the day and the sor­row and loss con­tin­ues each and ev­ery day.

“But only Ryan’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity and reliance on me has kept me go­ing from one day to the next.”

Brit­tany Lu­cas, 28, was last week found not guilty on the ground of men­tal illness of Eli’s mur­der and Ryan’s at­tempted mur­der.

She drowned Eli in the river near the Moama town­ship, just across the Vic­to­ria-New South Wales bor­der, on March 2 last year. Her el­dest boy, Ryan, man­aged to es­cape.

Ms Lu­cas had only been re­leased on pa­role from prison a month ear­lier, ar­riv­ing unan­nounced at Mrs Con­nor’s home de­spite an AVO against her and Mrs Con­nor telling Cor­rec­tions she was not wel­come.

Mrs Con­nor called Cor­rec­tions and FACS the fol­low­ing day to alert them, and claims they promised to make other ar­range­ments.

On March 1, last year Ms Lu­cas picked up her sons from school and fled to Vic­to­ria.

Ear­lier that day, her pa­role of­fi­cer noted she was “ag­i­tated, star­ing and pac­ing around the room” when they met, and that Ms Lu­cas said her “gut in­stinct” told her she was not safe.

Ms Lu­cas, dis­tressed, sob­bing and cry­ing, then con­sulted a men­tal health worker say­ing she did not like “where her thoughts were tak­ing her”.

But nei­ther per­sons did any­thing about it.

Ms Lu­cas called Mrs Con­nor from near Bendigo, the next day and said: “You will never see us and the boys again.”

Af­ter killing her son Ms Lu­cas handed her­self into po­lice, telling them she drowned “her ba­bies” be­cause one of them “turned evil”.

Mrs Con­nor said she had tried re­peat­edly to get men­tal health help for her daugh­ter.

“We strug­gled with seek­ing treat­ment for our daugh­ter for many years,” she said.

FACS New South Wales and Cor­rec­tive Ser­vices NSW said it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment while the case was be­fore the coro­ner.

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