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Boy, 5, died in squalor, court told

A five-year-old boy died days after cutting his foot on rubbish in his family's filth-ridden Melbourne home after his parents failed to take him to a doctor, according to court documents.

The boy received a three-centimetre cut to his big toe when he stepped on an open can of cat food that had been discarded in the house and was piled among junk, food scraps and faeces that filled every room of the house, in Melbourne's north-western suburbs, the documents say.

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Boy dies in dirty, junk-filled home

A 5-year-old died in his putrid home after his parents gave him no treatment for a cut foot, but as court reporter Adam Cooper explains, from the outside the boy's parents seemed 'like a normal couple'.

On August 1, 2012, several days after the injury, he could not be revived by ambulance paramedics after the boy's mother had rushed him to an ambulance branch office. One paramedic said in a statement to police that the boy had grey, mottled skin when he was brought to them and that he had a filthy bandage wrapped around his foot.

According to court documents, the boy had a headache and sore neck the night before he died, and was heard by his older brother calling for help and looking ''very, very, very sick''.

The boy's mother, 42, on Wednesday in Melbourne Magistrates Court pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless conduct endangering serious injury, a charge that carries a five-year maximum penalty. She also pleaded guilty to failing to register the birth of a child.

The woman began crying as she sat in the front row of court after entering her plea. Her husband, the boy's father, faces the same charges as his wife. The father, 43, is yet to enter a plea and is scheduled to return to court next month. The names of the couple and their son have been suppressed to protect the identity of the couple's other son, who was eight at the time of his brother's death.


The five-year-old's death, and the state of the house in which he lived, has shocked police and court officials and prompted investigations into how his parents could allow them to live in what one police officer called a ''state of extreme squalor''.

''The inside of the house was filled with rubbish and debris throughout every room, consisting of general household waste, rotting and spoilt food, mould, faeces, broken furniture and household items, as well as soiled bedding and clothing,'' an investigating officer wrote in the hand-up brief.

''A foul odour emanated from the premises and an infestation of rodents and insects was evident.''

Photographs from inside the house, taken by police and tendered to the court, show rooms filled with shin-high piles of waste and junk and of food, mould and faeces splattered across furniture and appliances.

The boy's death prompted an investigation by Bernie Geary, the principal commissioner of the Commission for Children and Young People, and details about the case were conveyed to the office of Community Services Minister Mary Wooldridge. The state coroner is also expected to investigate later this year.

According to court documents, the boy who died was born at home, was never immunised or enrolled in school or kindergarten and only really had contact with his immediate family members. Neighbours told police the boy was quiet and withdrawn, had poor speech and always appeared dressed in clothing that was inappropriate for the weather.

The boy's father was an electrical designer at the time of his son's death, documents say, while his wife was the primary carer of the children.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg last week told a hearing the details of the case were ''highly unusual and distressing''.

He was told last week toxicologists were yet to determine exactly how the boy died.

On Wednesday Mr Rozencwajg ordered the boy's mother to appear before the County Court in June. He extended the couple's bail.