The death of a seven-year-old boy in Adelaide is being investigated as a potential case of criminal neglect – just weeks after little girl died under similar circumstances.
Makai was ‘very sick’ on February 10 when he was taken from his home in Craigmore, in the city’s north, to Lyell McEwin Hospital, before being transferred to Women’s and Children’s Hospital. He died later that evening.
A special task force is now investigating whether his death was due to neglect.
The tragic incident may be similar to the death of six-year-old Charlie, who died in July – reportedly from malnutrition in her family’s government-owned home in Munno Para – also in the city’s northern suburbs.
Detectives are looking into Makai’s five siblings, aged between seven and 16.
SA Police detective superintendent Des Bray said during a press conference on Monday that a post-mortem revealed the boy had a number of serious health issues.
‘The cause of death in itself wasn’t enough to raise concern because it was a serious, recognised health issue,’ he said.
Ten days after his death, information from ‘various child protection authorities’ was obtained and handed to police.
‘Soon after, investigators began reviewing volumes of material and obtained an opinion from a paediatric expert,’ Supt. Bray said.
‘They formed the view that sufficient grounds existed to commence a criminal investigation of criminal neglect causing death.’
The investigation will determine whether anyone was responsible for Makai’s death, or the alleged neglect of his siblings – who have all been living with their father since November 2020.
The boy’s mother was not living with him when he died.
When asked whether Makai’s death was similar to Charlie’s, he said: ‘There is neglect and abuse which we believe has occurred over a period of time but it doesn’t have all the same characteristics of Charlie’s.’
Charlie was found unresponsive at her family’s housing commission home in Munno Para, in Adelaide’s northern suburbs, in the early hours of Friday, July 15.
Her death sparked a major crimes investigation by police and has led her five siblings to be taken into the care of the state, as their mother was investigated for criminal neglect.
It was later revealed that Charlie was suffering from coeliac disease – a severe immune disorder in which the digestive system reacts to gluten.
Child protection officers visited Charlie two days before her death but did not seem concerned about her welfare.
Supt. Bray said criminal neglect happens when a person with a duty of care to a child failed to take all reasonable steps to protect them from harm, and a child is harmed or dies as a result of that neglect.
The offence carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.News