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Police say father tried to ‘prevent rescue’ of his children from house fire he is suspected to have started

Police say father tried to ‘prevent rescue’ of his children from house fire he is suspected to have started

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Louise Thomas

A father in Australia has been charged with murder after he allegedly set fire to his home and trapped his children inside.

The 28-year-old man, who was not named by the police, has been charged with killing his two boys, aged three and six, and a five-month-old baby girl.

He first attacked his partner before setting his Lalor Park home on fire and then attempted to trap his seven children inside at about 1am on Sunday, the local police said.

The man was charged with three counts of murder, five counts of attempted murder, and one charge of destroying property with the intent to endanger life, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The mother of the children, three boys, and a nine-year-old girl escaped the house fire.

The 29-year-old woman has since been discharged from the hospital and is in stable condition, police said. Four children are in stable condition as well.

The father remains under police guard at Westmead Hospital, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

“We’re alleging that 28-year-old man took direct actions to prevent the rescue of those young lives,” NSW Police Homicide Squad Superintendent Danny Doherty said, adding it was “unimaginable how the family is coping”.

Mr Doherty said the matter was being treated as a “domestic (violence) related multiple homicide”.

“At this stage it does appear the 28-year-old is responsible for multiple deaths of young lives that have been tragically taken away,” Supt Doherty said.

“The 28-year-old man is currently in police guard at hospital, he is in an induced coma at the moment being treated for smoke inhalation and other medical issues related to the fire.

“He has spoken and communicated. He recovered fairly well.

“He understands that three of his children have died as a result of this house fire, and he understands he’s been charged with those nine offences,” he said.

On Sunday, one of the neighbours heard the shouts of the children and stepped out to check. Jarrod Hawkins was quoted as saying that he struggled to see past a thick layer of smoke once he stepped outside.

“I then heard kids coughing and yelling to my right,” he said.

“Those kids were unreal, very happy, full of energy, just typical kids,” he recalled. “The front door was locked, but I kept shoulder-barging it until I smashed it in,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“There was too much smoke, I couldn’t see a thing, but I knew the daughter was inside.”

Meanwhile, the father’s case was heard in a local court on Thursday. He did not apply for bail, and his case was adjourned until 6 September.


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