Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston. Picture: Peter Wallis
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston. Picture: Peter Wallis

‘Court signed off on that baby’s death’

BRAVEHEARTS is demanding an inquiry into how a ­"pen-­waving judge'' approved a custody agreement for a Queensland baby killed by his father in a murder-suicide this month.

The Courier-Mail can reveal both parents of the six-month-old baby had consented to the agreement, approved by a Federal Circuit Court judge.

"The court signed off on that baby's death,'' Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said. "That father should never have had contact with that baby.''

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston is calling for a royal inquiry into family law. Picture: Peter Wallis
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston is calling for a royal inquiry into family law. Picture: Peter Wallis

The baby and his father were found dead in a car north of Brisbane after the man failed to return his son to the mother after an access visit.

Queensland Police said the father was a known domestic violence offender.

But they failed to issue an "amber alert" for child abduction after the baby's mother reported him missing.

A relative of the baby wrote on a GoFundMe page set up for the bereaved mother that "the courts have let her down and not kept the baby's father away from her son!"

Ms Johnston said parents were often railroaded into signing consent orders when lawyers told them they risked losing all custody in a trial.

She said judges need to spend more time assessing consent orders to check there was no domestic violence or sexual abuse.

Queensland Child Safety Minister Di Farmer said her heart went out to the baby's family.

She said the Child Protection Act prevented her from talking about individual cases.

"Where a child dies who is known to the department, an internal systems and practice review must be completed within six months," she said.

"That report is then given to the Child Death Case Review Panel, who have a further six months to consider the review.

"I know everyone wants answers and so do I, but we need this to be done properly and we need to allow police the time and space to do their job.''

Bravehearts has called for a royal inquiry into family law, and a National Child Advocacy Centre to independently verify claims of child harm.



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