Horsham mum forced to call police about her son: Her story

IN THE dark hours overnight Tuesday of last week, most people would have been in tucked up in bed.

But one Horsham mother was doing the hardest thing she had ever done – calling the police about her son.

The decision to call the police followed years of struggle for the mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Tuesday night started with a battle, when the son, 14, skipped his court-ordered curfew of 10pm.

“We tried to convince him to come home, but he didn’t,” his mother said.

“We have six kids, he’s the third. They’ve got kinder and school and stuff like that.”

The rest of the family went to bed, but the mother got up to check on one of her children.

While she was up, she heard a police car drive past.

Soon after, her sister messaged her to say her son was in a stolen car.

It was then the mother decided to call the police.

Stolen

She asked whether a car had been stolen by minors.

“He confirmed what I already knew,” she said.

The mother’s next phone call was to her son.

“I asked about the car and at the start he said he didn’t know what I was talking about,” she said.

He then admitted he was driving in Kalkee Road.

She pleaded with him to pull over, but he said he didn’t want to go to juvenile detention.

“He said, ‘I love you mum, I love you, I’m sorry’, and then the phone went dead,” she said.

“You just think the worst.”

The mother called the police, told them where her son was and that he would not stop for the police.

Then she and her eldest daughter and boyfriend went searching for him.

By the time they approached Urquhart Street, the car had crashed.

The crashed car in Urquhart Street, Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

The crashed car in Urquhart Street, Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Horsham police said the car hit a traffic island after speeding over Horsham’s overpass.

The driver allegedly lost control of the car which became airborne and struck a tree.

The mother said seeing the crashed car and flashing lights terrified her.

“My stomach just turned. My heart dropped,” she said.

“I was so scared. I didn’t know if he was dead or alive; if he had hurt someone else.”

The son was taken to Wimmera Base Hospital, where the mother and sister pleaded with him to understand the consequences of his actions.

“He doesn’t fully understand that what he’s done could have killed someone,” the mother said.

Her son’s arrest and charges turned this mother’s worst fears into reality.

“I was so scared. I didn’t know if he was dead or alive; if he had hurt someone else.”

The son’s troubles started in primary school. At 10, he was diagnosed with ADHD.

He has been getting into trouble with the police for just over a year.

It’s been a difficult experience for his parents, who believe they have done everything possible to get him back on track.

“We’ve done so much to help him,” the mother said.

“We’ve got a family support worker and we’ve been to Wimmera Uniting Care quite a few times.”

The son has also met counsellors and psychologists.

“We’ve tried a lot. We’ve approached the police plenty of times to see what they could do and if they had any ideas at all, before something like this happened,” the mother said.

“I even contacted the Department of Human Services at one stage but that didn’t go any further.”

Desperate, the parents begged police to lock their son in a cell overnight to try to scare him. But the police refused.

Blame

The mother said her son hung around with the wrong crowd, but she did not completely blame them for her son’s actions.

But she is frustrated at suggestions that she could have done more, or by people questioning where she and her husband were on the night of the crash.

“We have done everything we can think of in every way to try to prevent this from happening,” she said.

“You can’t hit them, that’s assault. You can’t tie them up, that’s imprisonment.

“They’ve been really good, the police, but they’ve said to us we need to stop him from breaking curfew. How?”

The mother said she and her husband had confiscated the son’s Playstation and mobile before but it hadn’t worked.

She said they had always enforced curfews with their children.

“They’re not allowed to roam the streets but it’s him being defiant,” she said.

The mother said police had fined him for breaking court-imposed curfews, but he could not afford to pay the fines and it was left to her and her husband.

“Now he’s really stuffed up big time,” she said.

Emergency service crews attend the crashed car in Urquhart Street, Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Emergency service crews attend the crashed car in Urquhart Street, Horsham. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

The mother said after he was released on bail on Wednesday last week, her son broke a bail condition by leaving the house to break up with his girlfriend.

When the police visited to check he was complying with the conditions, the mother told them that he was not at home.

“I don’t lie for him,” she said.

At 3am, the police returned to arrest and remand her son.

He faced court on Friday, where the mother said the magistrate flat-out refused bail.

“It’s heartbreaking to see your son put in juvey,” she said.

“I’m doing whatever I can to help him. I’m never, ever going to turn my back on him.”

The son spent four days in detention before facing Children’s Court on Monday.

His charges included theft of a motor vehicle, conduct endangering life and drink-driving.

The mother said the court ordered her son to see a youth justice worker once or twice a week.

He must follow the law for the next year or he will return to detention.

The mother said he had been given no conviction.

But she said the sentence was not a slap on the wrist.

Suffer

“He’s going to suffer for the next couple of years,” she said.

“When he goes for his licence he has to get an interlock installed for two years.”

The son will also go to trauma awareness sessions when he is old enough.

“I think as much as it’s really upsetting for all of us, it might hopefully open his eyes and help him see this is the real world,” the mother said.

The family struggled to hold itself together as it faced the prospect of their son and brother going to juvenile detention.

To make matters worse, the mother has her own battle to face.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer six weeks ago and had her first surgery on Wednesday.

“He told the court that when he found out what was going on with me, it was hard to handle,” she said.

“It’s very hard to hear that. And it’s hard because he couldn’t come to me and talk about it.

“I should be focusing on me, but my kids come first.”

The mother said the family struggled through Mother’s Day on Sunday while the son was in detention.

“You can’t keep your children locked up. They have to learn from their mistakes - and this was a huge mistake for him.”

But she hopes the brief stint will help her son stay on track now.

“We’re all just very shocked and upset and I really feel for the people whose car he took,” she said.

“We’re very, very emotional, all of us.”

The mother believes if the police had done more than fine her son when he skipped curfew, he might not have continued his poor behaviour.

But she does not blame them.

“We called the police on our own son. No-one has any idea how hard that was,” she said.

“You can’t keep your children locked up. They have to learn from their mistakes - and this was a huge mistake for him.”

The mother said she refused to hide from her son’s actions.

She and her husband run a business in Horsham and know her son’s behaviour could affect it.

The mother thanked people who had offered her and her family support in the days after the crash, and asked those who blamed her to understand she and her husband had tried all they could.

“You can only do what you can do with your children,” she said.

“You can bring them up in the right way but they don’t always follow the right path.

“At the end of the day, it’s that particular person who made that decision. You can only guide them in the right direction.”

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop