Neighbours who lived next door to a home where three children were allegedly tortured have told police they will never forgive themselves for brushing off their screams and tantrums.
Police were called to the property in Brisbane‘s south-east about 9.30pm on Saturday and found a five-year-old boy in a critical condition, and his older siblings – a girl, six, and boy, eight, in the garage with extensive non-life threatening injuries.
All three kids were taken to Queensland Children’s Hospital for treatment, where they are now in a stable condition.
Daily Mail Australia understands police will allege neighbours heard screams coming from the home where the children’s 29-year-old father was arrested.
He has since been charged with seven counts of assault occasioning bodily harm, three counts of torture, three counts of assault occasioning bodily harm while armed and one count of grievous bodily harm.
Previous court records reveal the father-of-three is a refugee who migrated to Australia more than a decade ago.
Detectives were scouring the two-storey property, which sits at the end of a strip of apartments within a gated community, for four days after the father’s arrest.
Pictured: The Brisbane home where three children were allegedly tortured by their father
The backyard was desolate except for a couple of weathered chairs
The brick home appeared eerily desolate with no toys in the yard or other indicators that it had been ever been occupied by children – or anyone at all.
The barren backyard is a stark contrast to the one next door which is brimming with trampolines, bikes, and kids games.
The only signs of life were a padlock clamped through the front screen door, a couple of weathered chairs in the backyard and a stack of empty plastic containers piled on the grass by the entrance.
While the property appeared void of possessions, the father’s car remains parked in a bay across from the house. Through the window, a single child’s car seat could be seen fitted in the back.
A neighbour, who did not provide her name, said the family had moved into the townhouse between six and four months ago.
She said she never saw the kids playing outside but heard them screaming ‘almost every night’ and thought they must have been refusing to go to bed.
‘The screams would happen at all hours, sometimes late into the evening. It was mainly the girl,’ she told Daily Mail Australia, visibly devastated.
‘And now to think they were [allegedly] being tortured.
‘I will never forgive myself for thinking they were just playing up.’
She also said she was constantly kept awake by blaring music and house lights piercing through her windows.
Neighbours have told detectives they heard screams coming from the home which sounded like the children having tantrums
A second neighbour, who lives behind the family’s home, also said she never saw the kids playing in the backyard.
She too heard screams but was shocked and upset to learn of the allegations when detectives knocked on her door.
‘I’ve just been so busy lately. You hear noises but kids scream and cry – I just thought they were having a tantrum,’ she said.
‘I feel awful.’
Other local residents said they saw two women running out of the front gates with the children about 2am on Saturday – just 17 hours before the man’s arrest.
A padlock could be seen clamped to the screen door on Wednesday, with a stack of plastic containers sitting under the front window
Another woman wiped away tears as she recalled never seeing anything unusual happening at the home.
She arrived home about 12.30am on Sunday, shortly after the children had been taken away, and heard a distressed woman wailing in the driveway.
‘She was screaming “What have I done? How could I let this happen?”
‘People were comforting her then an ambulance showed up and took her away.’
The incident has rocked the tight knit community, with residents devastated to learn the kids could have been being allegedly abused right under their noses.
Neighbours said the incident has taught them that the community needs to be ‘more aware’ of what is happening around them.
Emergency services rushed to the home on Saturday night after paramedics were called to reports a 5-year-old boy was injured.
The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was arrested at the scene and remanded in custody to face Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday.
A single child’s seat could be seen in the back, along with some Centrelink documents stuffed into the side of the door
He has an extensive criminal history in Queensland, which includes a conviction for leaving a child unattended and giving false or misleading information to authorities.
The Department of Home Affairs revoked his refugee status in 2017 due to his run-ins with the law and sought to have him deported.
However, the decision was later reversed and his visa was reinstated, allowing him to stay in Australia.
In assessing his visa status, the Administrative Appeals Tribunal was asked to take into consideration evidence that he cared for three children.
Submissions tendered argued that it was not in the children’s ‘best interests to be denied a father who is capable and willing to provide loving support’.
His bail application was refused in court on Monday and the matter adjourned until February 27.
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