The mother of two young Aboriginal boys who drowned in a river in north Queensland earlier this year has been arrested with police confirming she is set to be formally charged with manslaughter later today.
Following a five-week investigation, the 47-year-old is expected to face two counts of manslaughter, in relation to the deaths of the brothers, aged just three and five, along with further charges for drug trafficking and supplying drugs to a minor, which police confirmed are unrelated to the death of the boys.
The bodies of the two young boys were found in Ross River in February after they were reported missing. At the time it was reported that the boys may have been swimming in the river before getting into trouble, as CCTV footage captured the boys walking along Brett Street towards the river.
Detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles, from Queensland Police, spoke at a press conference earlier today, aired by Seven News, where he told reporters that the charges would be related to care and responsibility a parent should have for children.
“We’ve taken the boy’s mother into custody, at this stage she’s been arrested on two counts of manslaughter,” he said. “Our plan today is to conduct further investigations and we’ll also speak to Leeann to seek a version from her. We anticipate she will be charged later this afternoon with these offences.”
He added: “This is an investigation that revolves around the care of these young boys and what led to their tragic passing. It is a preventable tragedy, there is no way that these boys should have been left in the way they were, there is no way these young men should have been allowed to go down to the river and certainly their deaths, under appropriate supervision by a parent, could have been avoided.”
Miles pointed out that parents, under the law, have an obligation in relation to the “care and provision of that care” to their children, adding that the police will allege that she has been “solely responsible” for the failure in relation to the deaths.
In a statement released by Queensland Police in February they said that officers had “sadly located the bodies of two boys who went missing from Cranbrook yesterday”.
Queensland Police issued several emergency alerts for the two brothers after they were reported missing, urging residents living along the river to check their backyards, and the boys’ mother also posted a desperate plea on Facebook at the time pleading with locals to help locate her sons.
“Asking everyone to please temporarily change there profile picture [sic],” she wrote. “Use the photo on my profile till the babies are found.
She added: “Please send these photos viral. I thank all who has put themselves out to help find these 2 wonderful boys.”
“Police would like to thank the media and the public for their assistance. The Queensland Police Service extend their condolences to the family during this tragic time,” the department concluded.