Leaving a Child Unsupervised in a Motor Vehicle Offences NSW

Sahar Adatia and Jimmy Singh.

 

An 11-month-old baby girl has been found dead inside a car that was parked outside Perth’s Kingsway Christian College in the suburb of Darch in what authorities have called a “sad tragedy”.

The young girl was found by her mother in the family car on Wednesday 14 April 2021 during an afternoon stop at the school where she was collecting another child from an independent after-hours day-care.

Around 4pm, upon returning to her vehicle, the baby was discovered unresponsive.

Emergency services arrived at the scene just before 6pm, followed by detectives from the Major Crime Squad who were joined by forensic investigators.

Authorities stayed at the school until after midnight, gathering evidence and investigating what could have happened.

In particular, their attention was on one of the classrooms used for after-hours childcare, along with the family car.

The following day, the mother, aged 39, was interviewed by detectives.

She is not being probed criminally.

The investigation into the death continues as police attempt to piece together what happened.

Addressing the tragedy, Western Australia Police Commissioner Chris Dawson said as part of the investigation, police were looking into whether the death could be related to an accident.

He did wish to speculate about how long the child was left in the car for.

“We’ve commenced some further investigations,” Commissioner Dawson said.

“I’m unable to really elaborate too much more because the investigation is still ongoing and incomplete.”

Commissioner Dawson described the incident as a “sad tragedy” and advised that police are now supporting the family.

 

Kingsway Christian College Issues Statement on Baby’s Death

Since the incident, Kingsway Christian College has issued a statement on the baby’s death, with principal Peter Burton describing the occurrence as the “most awful of circumstances”.

“Words cannot begin to express the depth of sadness we feel as a result of what, at this time, appears to be the accidental death late yesterday afternoon of an 11-month-old child,” Mr Burton said.

“Given that a formal investigation is being conducted, the College is unable to provide any additional detail to what has been provided by the police.

“While Kingsway After School Care is situated on our campus, it operates completely independently of the College.”

The principal also emphasised the school’s thoughts were with the family of the child.

“We are doing everything we can to provide pastoral support to the centre staff and parents who are understandably distraught about this terrible incident,” Mr Burton said.

“Above all else, our prayers go out to the loved ones of the child so tragically lost.”

 

A Warning from the NSW Centre for Road Safety: “Don’t Leave Children in Cars”

The NSW Centre for Road Safety cautions drivers and parents that children should “never be left alone in a car”, even for a brief amount of time.

By leaving children unattended in a car, they are in danger of a variety of dangerous circumstances, including suffering heat stress and dehydration given parked cars can quickly heat up even with windows wound down slightly, and burns from hot seatbelt buckles and vinyl fittings.

Furthermore, children are inclined to play with car controls, such as hand brakes, gear levers, power windows, cigarette lighters, and the ignition – all of which pose dangers.

Additionally, any car is vulnerable to car thieves.

Nevertheless, in NSW, it is illegal to leave a child unattended in a car where they might be in distress or their health is in danger.

Leaving a Child Unsupervised in a Motor Vehicle Offences NSW

In NSW, it is against the law to leave a child or a young person unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

This is reflected in section 231 of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998, which makes clear that a person who leaves any child or young person in the person’s care in a motor vehicle without proper supervision for such period or in such circumstances that the child or young person becomes or is likely to become emotionally distressed, or the child’s or young person’s health becomes or is likely to become permanently or temporarily impaired, is guilty of an offence.

Section 231 sets out a maximum penalty of up to $22,000 for an offence.

Heavier penalties apply carrying 2-years imprisonment or $22,000 fine, or both for neglecting to provide adequate and proper food, nursing, clothing, medical aid or lodging a child, whether or not you are the parent of the child or young person, if done without reasonable excuse, according to section 228.

More serious charges may apply, including manslaughter charges in NSW or the criminal offence of failure of parent to care for child charges under s43A(2) of the Crimes Act 1900.

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