A mother with a history of rampant hard drug use was signed off as an “able parent” who should keep custody of her kids just 10 days before the children died when she left them in a hot car.
Had a different conclusion been reached, it’s possible Darcey-Helen, 2, and Chloe-Ann, 18 months, would be alive today.
The pair died on November 23, 2019, in Waterford West in Brisbane’s southern suburbs.
Temperatures reached more than 60C in mum Kerri-Ann Conley’s car, where the kids had been left since 4am. On a scorching day, she didn’t check on them again until 1pm.
Conley pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of the two girls last month. She was sentenced to concurrent jail terms of nine years for both counts.
A report from the Queensland Government’s Department of Child Safety has now emerged, detailing worrying behaviour from Conley before the children’s deaths.
Kerri Ann Conley with one of her two girls in the back of her car.
The report stated she told department staff that in 2018 she wanted to swap the yet to be born Chloe-Ann for an iPhone.
While three weeks before her death, Darcy-Helen was seen running around her mother’s home with a bong in her mouth.
The girl was taken to hospital where a doctor said she was underweight, pale and suffering from diarrhoea.
Obtained by Channel 9, the documentation from child services also stated that Conley failed to undertake mandatory drug tests and told the department she had been using methamphetamine, also known as ice.
Nonetheless, the department said Conley was “a parent willing and able”. It was a judgment that left the two young children in her care, days before they would perish.
Brisbane Supreme Court was told Conley, 30, left the girls in her car after arriving at her Waterford West home from a friend’s house after 4am on November 23.
Instead of removing her daughters from their seats, she went inside, dawdled on her phone for a few hours and fell asleep.
Temperatures climbed to 61.5C in the car.
Two year old Darcey-Helen Conley (left) and one year old Chloe-Ann, daughters of Kerri-Ann Conley.
The girls’ skin was broken, covered in burns and blisters and was “peeling off” as paramedics tried to revive them, the court was told.
“Your first grossly negligent conduct was in deciding to leave your vulnerable children uncared for, unheard and unobserved in the dark,” Supreme Court Justice Peter Applegarth said.
“One can only hope these little girls slowly succumbed to the growing heat of the day much earlier that morning and faded into a deep sleep from which they never returned.
“The alternative of them being awake, distressed and trapped in their seats is too much to bear thinking about it for too long.
Kerri Ann Conley with daughter Chloe-Ann.
The court was told there were prior incidents where Conley’s children were left alone in a hot car.
Mr Applegarth said Conley’s excuse for previous occasions where the children were left alone in the car was that she did not want to wake them as they were “difficult” to settle.
He said this begged the question as to why she was coming home in the early hours of the morning with two young infants.
Detail in babies’ car deaths ‘too much to bear’Skin of girls who died in hot car ‘peeling off’
With time already served, Conley will be eligible for parole by November next year.
– with Blake Antrobus.
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