A coroner has found murdered Canberra boy Bradyn Dillon died after a series of missed opportunities by authorities, as his father lied and isolated him to hide his abuse.
Bradyn was nine years old when he was beaten to death by his father Graham Dillon in 2016.
Today Coroner Margaret Hunter found Dillon was “the sole person responsible” for Bradyn’s death, although she noted shortcomings in the Child Youth and Protection Services’ (CYPS) assessment of the family’s situation were also to blame.
“There have been ‘sliding door moments’ of opportunity during the time CYPS were involved,” Ms Hunter said.
“Opportunities to recognise that [Bradyn was] at risk of abuse were lost.
“It would be improper to speculate as to what would have happened had those sliding door moments been different.”
Ms Hunter noted “a number of factors” conspired against Bradyn, including a consistently minimal application of risk assessment; shortcomings in identifying the cumulative harm of domestic violence upon children; and shortcomings in investigations into the accuracy of the information given by Dillon.
She also said she was “satisfied that Graham Dillon purposefully intended to hide [Bradyn] from the view of the mandatory reporting organisations.
“This is because Graham Dillon lied to CYPS … about the community organisations he said supported them,” Ms Hunter said.
“Despite the numerous reports which indicated that there was abuse being perpetrated by Graham Dillon, none of those reports could be said to have been a precursor to what eventuated.
“It is my view that no one could have predicted that Graham Dillon would murder his son.”
The hearings, which ran over 18 months, revealed Bradyn fell from view after his case was closed by child protection workers, just as his teachers were raising concerns about injuries.
His mother told the inquest she had begged for help but her pleas were ignored.
Ms Hunter agreed that “despite her desperate attempts to engage with various agencies about her well-founded fears … those concerns fell on deaf ears”.
Dillon is serving more than 40 years in jail for his crimes.
-more to come