Forced to sleep in shipping container: Perth girl claims adoptive parents abused her

A young girl claims she was beaten, abused and made to sleep in a shipping container for at least four months by her adoptive parents, a court has heard.

The Perth couple at the centre of the claims appeared in the WA District Court on Thursday, pleading not guilty to charges including deprivation of liberty and having control and care of a child and engaging in conduct that could result in the child’s suffering.

The girl alleges she was made to sleep in a shipping container for more than four months.

The girl, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was adopted from the Phillipines by the couple after suffering an abusive childhood at the hands of her biological father and stepmother.

The couple had three biological children of their own and another adopted daughter, aged 12, when the young girl was taken into the family’s Busselton home.

The court heard the alleged victim had trouble adapting to her new life, and her behaviour took a turn for the worse when the family moved from their home in the South West to a property in Mundijong.

Her adoptive parents reportedly struggled with her behaviour, which she alleged culminated in physical abuse and being shut away in a shipping container for at least four months before child protection authorities could become involved.

The girl alleged on more than one occasion, her mother dragged her out of the house and beat her with a metal pipe.

“At home my mum has been hitting me with a pipe, a tennis bat, and pulling my hair,” she said.

“Once I took the bus because she told me to, so I just went to catch the bus and when I got home she said ‘where have you been?’ I said I caught the bus and she said ‘who told you to do that?’ I said you told me to catch the bus.

“She was really angry about that. She said ‘I want to kill you right now, I’m so close to killing you.’

“Before that she said ‘I will shoot you and your head will go in a thousand pieces.’”

On one occasion, the girl said she had been scared to tell her adoptive mother she was hurt after she had allegedly punched her in the neck and pulled her hair.

“It started hurting, I couldn’t breathe properly ... I thought it might make it worse if I told her,” she said.

On one day in 2017, the girl said she had been beaten before her mother had cut off her hair.

The trial will continue in the WA District Court.The trial will continue in the WA District Court.

The girl said her adoptive father also abused her, but he would pull her into a shed on the property so “people don’t see”.

She said while they beat her, the parents often yelled at her for mumbling and her attitude.

“Dad did the same thing as my mum ... he hit me with the pipe and pulled my hair. He told me ‘are you ever going to change? [Are you] ever going to change your attitude?’,” she said.

The court also heard the girl had once been left outside in a back paddock “all night”, and she claimed she had never had a birthday party.

The girl said the way her adoptive parents treated her was starkly different to the way they treated their other adopted daughter.

“They treat her nice, not me. She doesn’t get hurt or anything like that," she said.

The girl said she had been forced to sleep in a green shipping container on the property from May to September in 2017.

“I don’t have blankets, she took them off me,” she said. “I only have a long sleeve shirt and long pants. It’s kind of freezing.

“I go to the toilet before I get in there ... it’s locked [by] my mum. I can’t get out.

“She locks it at night time or when she goes with [her stepsister] ice-skating. I have to stay here and do nothing. She’ll lock it all the time.

“It’s big, it’s dark, it’s stuffy, it’s messy and there’s sand everywhere.”

Police began their investigation into the young girl’s claims in late 2017, and her adoptive parents were charged over her alleged neglect.

But the couple’s lawyers said both the mother and father denied all the claims made by the young girl, and said they had tried their best to give her a loving home.

Defence lawyer John Hawkins, representing the mother, said the family had been very highly regarded by Australian adoption authorities when they applied to adopt the young girl, and the couple had thought very hard about her troubled past and how they could help her on her arrival in Australia.

“She had suffered very significantly ... she was effectively abandoned,” he said.

“Before [the mother] ever met [the girl], she knew pretty much all about her. She knew her challenges, her abandonment and her background.”

The couple have pleaded not guilty.

The couple have pleaded not guilty.

He said the couple had contacted a psychiatrist and the Department of Child Protection when it became clear the girl was struggling to adjust to the family’s move between Busselton and Mundijong.

“[The mother] is a proud and lovely mother who would never hit any child, let alone a challenging and difficult 12-year-old she loved.”

Defence lawyer Tom Percy QC, representing the father, also said it was likely the girl had invented the stories about her adopted family because of her troubled upbringing in the Phillipines.

“Any claim [this couple] were responsible for any neglect is strenuously denied,” he said.

“Neither of them neglected the child in any way as suggested by the prosecutor ... the big ticket issue is whether she was ever forced to live in a sea container.

“This is utterly untrue. You’ll hear no evidence that she ever went or came out of a sea container.

“I’m not here to denigrate this young girl. She’s had had enough trauma before she ever set foot in Australia.

“Why she makes up these transparently false allegations is anyone’s guess, but we’re not here to guess.”

Mr Percy said the jury would struggle to find “one scintilla” of evidence that supported the young girl’s claims, and called her allegations regarding the shipping container as “fanciful in the extreme”.

The trial is set to continue for eight days.

Source : https://www.watoday.com.au/national/western-austra

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