Justice for Bailey
But Karen Chapman and Sandra Campbell say the system let Bailey down, with DOCS ignoring their repeated calls for help and medical evidence of the boy’s abuse.
After Bailey’s death, he was dealt a final blow when a judge handed Forrest a penalty of only eight years with a non-parole period of six years.
Now, his grandmothers are fighting for justice.
A statement from the Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, the Hon Tom Bathurst:
I write regarding the story which aired on A Current Affair last night titled ‘Justice For Bailey’ concerning the case of 4 year old Bailey Constable and the sentence of Nathan Forrest. The programme failed to inform viewers of the following matters: 1. While the programme reported Nathan Forrest was originally charged with murder but the Crown accepted his plea of manslaughter in full discharge of the indictment, it failed to say that the judge has no control over this process. 2. A Judge can only sentence on material put before them in the sentence proceedings. In this case that material was in the form of an Agreed Statement of Facts, supplemented by statements from medical experts and the oral evidence of the child’s mother. Most of the material featured in the programme relating to the child’s parenting and general welfare was not before the Judge and was not contained in the Agreed Statement of Facts or in the material tendered by the Crown. 3. The Crown submissions put before the Judge did not call for the imposition of the maximum sentence. 4. The sentence imposed was within the range of other sentences imposed for the manslaughter of a child and which have not been the subject of appeal by the Crown as inadequate. 5. The programme did not give proper consideration to all the facts and a proper analysis of the sentencing process, and its facilitation of a social media campaign, has resulted in threats of a disturbing nature against the Judge who presided over the case. The media is entitled to cover stories which are deemed to be in the public interest. However, it is not in the public interest to report a serious matter without taking into consideration the facts before the Sentencing Judge and in so doing to inflame public reaction to the point where serious threats are made against a member of the Judiciary.
A statement from Family and Community Services:
Community Services has reviewed Bailey’s death, as it does with the death of all children known to Community Services. The review reinforced the need for us to work holistically with families and to make decisions based on a thorough assessment of all the information available. The NSW Ombudsman investigated Bailey’s death to consider the role of Community Services and other agencies working with Bailey and his siblings. The findings of the Ombudsman Report are similar to those of the Community Services’ review. A detailed report has been prepared for the Ombudsman on the implementation of his Community Services now has a greater awareness of the need to assess the potential risks posed by new partners which should include proactively seeking information about any alcohol, illicit drug use or history of violence and the potential impact these could have in a new family. Community Services is working on improvements in its practice to respond more effectively to complex cases. An important part of this is clearly identifying lead responsibility in case work, as the primary contact point for the family, but also to clearly articulate how responsibilities are to be shared. New case planning processes in Community Services clearly highlight the importance of engaging with extended family members. Community Services is improving how we work with families, how we work together, and how we work with other agencies to improve outcomes for children and families. We are committed to learning how we can do better to protect vulnerable children, young people and families. Family and Community Services continue to be the only child protection agency in Australia to publicly report on the deaths of children known to us via our Child Deaths Annual Report. Community Services met with Bailey’s grandmother as part of the review into his tragic death. The department intends to make contact with Bailey’s extended family in the coming weeks to extend our sympathies for their loss and provide an opportunity for the family to share their experiences and concerns with us.