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In Loving Memory of Leanne Thompson Abandoned by Qld DoCS

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on Thu, 04/25/2013 - 07:14

SIX days before a girl, 15, died as a result of a hanging, Child Safety was told she had been beaten and given drugs by a man she was living with, but the department did nothing, an inquest has heard.

Delia Williams, a departmental team leader in 2006, told Brisbane Coroners Court she did not notify police because she called Leanne Thompson and the girl told her she was "perfectly fine".

Daniel O'Sachy had told a child safety officer on September 1, 2006, that Leanne was living with his brother Alex O'Sachy, who frequently hit her and gave her the drug speed and called her a whore.

He said Leanne was cutting herself and after his brother hit her on the back of her head that day she had been screaming and had left the house crying and gone to a bus stop.

Ms Williams said she made sure Leanne had departmental after hours contact numbers and said they could pick her up if she was scared.

The court heard that Child Safety officers felt they had unmanageable case loads in 2006.

Leanne Thompson's death in 2006 initially was treated as a suicide, but police began a homicide investigation in 2010 after a woman told of seeing Alex O'Sachy and his brother Daniel hang the girl.

They have both denied it.

Anne Duffield, Leanne's Child Safety case worker, told the inquest she suspected the girl was having sex with Alex O'Sachy, who was a drug using criminal, 28, who had just got out of jail.

Leanne Thompson, whose death was initially treated as suicide.

Ms Duffield said Leanne Thompson denied she was having sex with Mr O'Sachy.

She said she felt there was nothing that could be done to forcibly remove the girl from his house.

"She was very adamant she and Alex were just good mates, despite me challenging her about that, " Ms Duffield said.

Brisbane Coroners Court heard Ms Duffield had at times picked up Leanne to take her shopping and dropped her back outside Alex O'Sachy's Upper Mt Gravatt house.

"Leanne was already very determined to stay with Alex O'Sachy and whether I had dropped her at a bus stop or there, it would not have made a difference," The case worker told the court.

The court heard that Leanne's father Sergeant Damian Rockett, had called the department in July, 2006, and asked for his daughter to be forcibly removed from Alex O'Sachy's house.

Ms Duffield said she had a discussion with police, but it was felt there would be little impact in removing Leanne because she would continue to return to O'Sachy's house.

When asked of her awareness that it was a criminal offence for a 28-year-old man to be having sex with a girl, 15, Ms Duffield said unless Leanne made a complaint there was little police could do.

She said Leanne was dismissive of their concerns and would say: "I will live my life how I want to live it."

The court heard that in March, 2006, police from Holland Park had called the department to say that Alex O'Sachy, a poly drug user, had just got out of jail and was not the type of person with whom Leanne should associate.

Ms Duffield said she spoke with Phoenix House, a place where Leanne had been staying, and told them they weren't to transport her to Alex's house.

Ms Duffield said she believed neither the department or police had the power to remove the juvenile girl from O'Sachy's house.

"I felt helpless. I couldn't do anything to remove her from that situation," she said.

"She was very determined that this was where she wanted to be."

Ms Duffield confirmed that on July 12, 2006, a police officer told her that Leanne had received three "hot hits" of bad drugs.

She said she and police had a meeting with Leanne two days later to express their concerns, but the girl said she was off speed and only "smoking dope" and she wanted to stay with O'Sachy.

When asked if she knew that Leanne was in danger of harm Ms Duffield said Leanne had always been in danger of harm, even before coming into the department's care.

"If it hadn't been Alex O'Sachy it might have been another person," she said.

Ms Duffield said Leanne had previously had contact with people involved in drugs and prostitution.


The moment Leanne's father knew she was in trouble

Sergeant Damian Rockett was working a shift in his south Brisbane district when he heard a radio call for a patrol car to attend a familiar address.

It was the Upper Mount Gravatt home of his daughter's much-older, drug-dealing boyfriend Alex O'Sachy.

Sergeant Rockett knew his 15-year-old daughter, Leanne Melissa Thompson, was in trouble.

Leanne Thompson died in 2006. Photo: Supplied

The patrol officers told Rockett his daughter was not there but a few minutes later O'Sachy's brother Daniel phoned police to say he'd found Leanne hanging underneath the house from a piece of electrical cord.

Leanne died of hypoxic brain damage in the Princess Alexandra Hospital on the evening of September 7, 2006.

The teen's death was initially treated as suicide, although Leanne's mother Dianne Thompson believed her daughter was murdered.

Nearly four years later O'Sachy's former neighbour Linda Hart told police she saw the convicted drug trafficker and his brother Daniel beat Leanne and hang her under the house.

Ms Hart shared harrowing details of what she claimed she saw at a coronial inquest into Leanne's death last week.

On the morning of September 7 Ms Hart said she heard Alex O'Sachy yell: "You're a f---ing pathetic loser. Get the f--- out. Just f--- off you whore. Just f---ing kill yourself, you f---ing b---h."

The fighting between O'Sachy and Leanne continued for hours, she said.

Ms Hart found the arguing so upsetting she left her home to visit her parents about 10.30am.

She returned about lunch time when she claimed she saw the O'Sachy brothers hang Leanne from a rafter.

However, forensic evidence did not support Ms Hart's account of the events that day.

Coroner John Lock said there was little doubt O'Sachy had encouraged Leanne to take her own life on many occasions, including the day she died.

O'Sachy's former girlfriend Lisa Palmos told police that in 2008 O'Sachy said: "I know I told Leanne to go and knock herself and that I wouldn't be far behind her, but I didn't mean her to go and do anything."

Another of O'Sachy's former girlfriends, Nicole Bremner, recalled Alex saying: "I told Leanne to kill herself and I would be right behind her".

And, Leanne's mother found a number of disturbing notes from O'Sachy to her daughter in early September in which he suggested the teenager kill herself.

O'Sachy faced a Supreme Court trial for assisting in Leanne's suicide in 2009 but the jury failed to reach a verdict.

Mr Lock said there was no doubt Leanne had been involved in a "destructive, violent and abusive relationship" with O'Sachy.

O'Sachy provided her with drugs, including heroin.

On the day she died Leanne was likely under the influence of Xanax she was given by O'Sachy or one of his suppliers.

"Alex O'Sachy was clearly not the right person with whom she should have been in contact," Mr Lock said.

"There is evidence that he preyed on vulnerable young women."

While police investigated Leanne's death in 2010 O'Sachy was living with a 31-year-old woman named Lauren.

That year Lauren told her mother about O'Sachy's alleged violent behaviour, including an attempt to cut her finger off and set her alight using methylated spirits.

Lauren died of a suspected drug overdose in a house she shared with O'Sachy in Birkdale in 2011.

Like Lauren, Leanne turned to drugs at a young age.

Leanne's destructive behaviour began after her parents split acrimoniously in 2002.

In 2005 Rockett and Thompson sought help from the Department of Child Safety.

Leanne was placed under a child protection order and was taken to Brisbane's Phoenix House youth centre.

Her child safety officer Anne Duffield told the inquest Leanne was already involved in illicit drugs and prostitution, and regularly went missing for days at a time.

By March 2005, Leanne was living with O'Sachy and stopped attending school.

Ms Duffield said she tried to talk Leanne out of living with the criminal, who was fresh out of prison, but the 15-year-old insisted that she "needed to stay". Ms Duffield told the court she felt "helpless".

In the months that followed the department was told Leanne was slashing her wrists and that she feared she had been given "hot hits" of bad drugs.

A year before Leanne's death O'Sachy was also associated with the suicide of another young teenager, Andrew Anderson, who shot himself in the head seconds after phoning his father and saying "Goodbye Dad".

O'Sachy was with the 14-year-old when he pulled the trigger.

Both Andrew and Leanne were under the official care of the Department of Child Safety when they died.

Mr Lock said there were "undoubted staff resource issues" at the Stones Corner branch of the Department of Child Safety but noted workers "did the best they could" under difficult circumstances.

"I do not pretend to have a simple solution or answer as to what else could have been done, but the impression is it had got too difficult," Mr Lock said.

He said he suspected staffing issues were still a problem within the department but referred the matter to the ongoing Child Protection Commission of Inquiry.

Currently the only place to securely house children in Queensland is a criminal youth detention centre.

Rockett has long campaigned for a safe house for at-risk children to be established in Queensland.

"They've just got nowhere to take the child to stop them returning to a place like Alex O'Sachy's," he said.

"At the present time, a child can refuse to get psychological and medical treatment and that's not in a child's best interests."

Despite the failings of the department the inquest heard Leanne's "tragic and untimely" death was the result of her "high-risk lifestyle".

On the day of Leanne's death Daniel O'Sachy visited child safety officers in Upper Mount Gravatt with his 10-year-old son, who was also living at the Wishart Road house.

He said Leanne was "in a bad way" and should be removed from the house, which was owned by his father George.

As Daniel and his son walked home the pair saw Leanne roaming the streets, dodging cars.

Half an hour later, Daniel's son, who cannot be named for legal reasons, phoned triple-0 to report that his uncle was hitting Leanne.

Halfway through the emergency call Daniel interrupted saying, "Alex was killing her but it's all gone quiet."

Another call was made to police at 3.39pm.

Two officers arrived at the O'Sachy residence but were told Leanne had run away. They left to search the streets for the teenager.

Daniel's son dialled triple-0 again at 3.58pm, saying Leanne had been found hanging beneath the house.

Mr Lock said O'Sachy's contact with Leanne in her final minutes remained unclear.

"Her distress that day is without doubt linked to Alex O'Sachy's abusive treatment of her in the days and hours leading up to her death," Mr Lock said.

"How and when Leanne got to the storage area, who put together the noose, who put it over the beam and in what circumstances Leanne's neck came to be in the noose ... is still uncertain."

Yet he added: "It is likely she has taken her own life."

Leanne's mother sobbed quietly in the court as Mr Lock read his findings.

"Leanne was a very troubled young person. She had been engaging in a number of high risk behaviours including drug abuse and sexual behaviour including alleged prostitution," Mr Lock said.

O'Sachy, who is currently serving time in jail for drug trafficking and having unlawful carnal knowledge of Leanne, was called to give evidence at the inquest.

He denied having any involvement in her death and refused to answer further questions about his relationship with Leanne, landing him an extra six months' jail for contempt.

Rockett said he was resigned to the fact O'Sachy may never reveal what happened to Leanne in the dark storage room, beneath the Wishart Road house.

"I know Alex O'Sachy," he said.

"I just feel sorry for the next woman that he associates with."

Support is available for anyone in crisis via Lifeline on 13 11 14.

NSW Family and Community Services's picture

My heart goes out to this family so much, our kids can get messed up in some crazy stuff. I was messed up in crazy stuff as a kid too.

No one thinks this is a possibility though unless they have experienced how messed up some people can be.

I cried writing the blog and cry now adding to it. My condolances, and deepest sympathies to the family. No one deserves this ever.