A stabbing that didn’t happen?

By ERWIN CHLANDA

 

It seems a serious crime in our streets, where children were among the victims, remained unreported to both the police and to the children’s services of the NT Government.

We strongly believe the following occurred: A woman and her three young children were attacked by six to eight people in the Target carpark, Todd Mall, at 8.30pm on Saturday, April 7.
She received a wound, inflicted possibly with a knife, which required 14 stitches. 
Her son, in his mid-teens, was apparently stabbed, and a younger son had his jaw broken. Another child and the woman were bashed.
The attackers demanded money and were given $50. They tore a gold chain off the woman’s neck.
We received this information from two people linked to the woman, one of them closely.
Both informants were known previously to the News and we have no doubt about their reliability.
They spoke to the News on condition of not be named.
We know the woman’s name but we will not be publishing it.
The crime was not reported to the police, and we don’t know why not.

Neither was it to the Department of Family and Children’s Services (FACS).
One reason why the woman is keeping mum could be that the perpetrators threatened her with further violence if she reported them.
The question that needs to be answered, but has not been, is this: Why did the hospital not tell the police what happened?
Russell Goldflam, the president of the NT Criminal Lawyers Association, explains the obligations: “Although there is no general duty to report a crime, mandatory reporting of both domestic violence and child abuse applies in the Northern Territory.
“Under these laws, all adults (including medical staff) who reasonably believe that a child under 18 has suffered harm are legally obliged to report this as soon as possible to police or child protection authorities.”
The News put the following questions to the hospital’s media people, both here and in Darwin:-
Were the woman and her children treated in the hospital?
Why was a report to the police not made?
What is the hospital’s policy about reporting to the police injuries that clearly, or most likely, are the result of a crime?
We gave the hospital the woman’s name but assured them she and her children would not be identified in our report.
The hospital’s response, given by Bridget Wild, can only be described as bizarre. In summary this is what it was:-
No information can be given because the woman and her children are not in the hospital at present.
If they were current inpatients, the only information that would be given is whether their condition is serious or stable, or serious but stable.
The spokeswoman gave no answer about the policy regarding reports to the police because “we are not dealing in hypotheticals. We are not able to discuss it at all. We are not commenting on anything”.

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5 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. David Chewings
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 5:14 am

    @3 John Childs Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:46pm. I am impressed that John Childs has written about your article titled “A stabbing that didn’t happen,” Alice Springs News April 19, 2012.
    John is a local and I for one wish he would express his concerns more often.
    Darwin will eventually respond to the many questions raised by this report of yours and John’s response.
    This serious matter of apparently, a mother and her three children being attacked on April 7 in the Target carpark has been largely ignored by other media and those in government.
    I must ask of Superintendent Jo Foley was this matter not serious enough to warrant your immediate professional and constabulary response.
    I imagine the new council is dreading the moment that this goes viral.
    Regards, David Chewings.
    [ED – Both the police and the Department of Family and Children’s Services (FACS) did respond to enquiries from the Alice Springs News Online. Both said they haven’t received a report.]

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  2. Ian Sharp
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hi Erwin, I don’t see what is bizarre. If I was treated at the hospital I would think that was my business, and I would not want the hospital to comment to anyone, including you, without my permission. If they did I would be bloody cranky.
    I think the issue here relates to why the family have chosen not to report this alleged incident to the police. Until they do we are in the realm of Chinese whispers, we can’t be sure what happened.
    [ED – Hi Ian, as our story sets out, if the events are as suspected, the law says a report must be made because children are involved.]

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  3. John Childs
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I believe that there is an Alice Springs Hospital Board of some sort – a link to the community? An advisory body? A Mr Bruce Simmons was identified as its chair as recently as five months ago.
    I reckon that board should be asked the question, as Bridget Wild (a bureaucrat perhaps?) certainly did not answer a question which is clearly in the public interest. Either she did not understand the question, or was dodging the issue by deliberately misinterpreting it.

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  4. Katie Weiss
    Posted April 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    So … you have “reason to believe” a stabbing happened, but will not publish the alleged victim’s name – or the sources you got the information from – and have no idea why the crime was not reported. What?
    [ED – Sometimes a story lies in unanswered questions. Our sources are credible. We need to protect the privacy of the woman and her children. Why does the hospital not answer the question: “Did you treat those people?” If so, they were obliged to make a report. For the public to have faith in the system, that question needs to be answered.]

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  5. Bogusbob
    Posted April 23, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Looks like they should have security cameras in the parking lots. Also, armed patrols would have been handy. Traveled to the Alice many times back in the 70’s and 80’s. It was pretty tame back then, and the people were more civil. Too bad it’s gone down the tubes.

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