The tragic murder of two South Australian children by their mother’s partner could have been prevented if they were taken out of their care like their older brother, a court heard.
Steven Graham Peet murdered his partner Adeline Yvette Wilson-Rigney and their two children Amber Rose Rigney (6) and her brother Korey Lee Mitchell (5) on May 20, 2016.
Peet pleaded guilty to triple homicide and was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence. He is serving his 36-year probationary period.
At the time of the murders, Amber and Korey were living with their mother, 28, and Peet.
During the murder trial, the Supreme Court heard that Families SA employees either immediately before or during the crime had the Hillier property north of Visited Adelaide.
An investigation was opened Tuesday by a coroner to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the children and the involvement of the Department of Child Protection, formerly known as Families SA.
The investigation – before Deputy Coroner Anthony Schapel – was told that two department employees visited Hillier’s property just three hours before police found their bodies.
In the opening remarks, the attorney who supported Ahura Kalali described a long history of Ms. Wilson-Rigney’s involvement with Families SA and the repeated notifications of the care of her three children.
He told the court that Amber and Korey’s older brother had been taken out of his mother’s custody because he was in “serious danger.”
“His death was undoubtedly prevented, not because of the unforeseen risks who portrayed Peet, but because of the risks of staying with his mother, ”Kalali said.
« Then why weren’t Amber and Korey removed as well? If Amber and Korey had been separated from their mother, their death would also have been prevented. ”
The court heard that SA police had been called into Ms. Wilson-Rigney’s home for domestic violence on at least four occasions – during she lived with her first partner.
According to Mr. Kalali’s remarks, the parents fought and fought over their eldest son.
The investigation revealed that there was another occasion when Ms. Wilson-Rigney contacted the boy’s grandparents and told them to pick him up because she hit him with a broom and threatened to hit him when he would stay with her.
Mr. Kalali said that when Families SA received a Level 2 notification of Ms. Wilson-Rigney in November 2014, the department believed that her eldest son was the primary target of abuse.
Level 2 denotes an intermediate to high risk of significant harm requiring a response within 10 days.
« This notification did not raise concerns for Amber or Korey … The Families SA decision indicated that there was excessive discipline or other minor behavior towards the child « Said Mr. Kalali.
The department received another notification when Ms. Wilson-Rigney was drunk and argued with a neighbor and was arrested by police, but the complaint was classified as » inefficient or vague « . </ The investigation heard that the mother was threatening her then-partner who had his car stolen and blamed Ms. Wilson-Rigney for it.
« Yvette threatened to take him in front of the Slapping the children’s eyes with a metal rod, and this behavior did not appear to be unusual, « Kalali said.
The court heard that Amber and Korey both suffered from » severe « language and communication skills deficiencies.
They were also often hungry at school because their mother “spends all the money on drugs” and had trouble sleeping because her mother often left them with strangers.
“Amber went without one for three days in a week Eating and drinking to school, ”said Mr. Kalali.
A toxicological autopsy revealed that Ms. Wilson-Rigney had methamphetamine, amphetamine and cannabis in her system at the time of her death.
The investigation also mentioned that Ms. Wilson-Rigney was arrested by SA police in January 2016 for attacking her firstborn.
Mr. Kalali told the court that the mother had the authorities Informed in February 2016 that the family was homeless and slept in a tent or their car.
Families SA was notified and issued a « notifier-only concern » which meant they had no suspicion of abuse or neglect suspected.
Mr. Kalali then referred to the Child Protection Act, which states: « A child is at risk if a child is under 15 years old and has no permanent address. »
Ambers and Korey’s grandfather Steven Egberts and his partner Janet Wells participated in the trial.
Learn more about the Hillier triple murder on the Just Lawful podcast with Sean Fewster and Daniel Panozzo.
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