The mother of two young boys who drowned in Townsville’s Ross River has been charged with manslaughter, after police allege it was a “preventable tragedy”.
Jhulio Sariago, 3, and Barak Austral, 5, went missing late in the afternoon of February 25 and an amber alert was issued six hours later.
Their bodies were pulled from the river the next morning after a desperate community search involving 100 people and a helicopter.
Their mother, 47, was taken into custody on Friday morning and was charged this afternoon with two counts of manslaughter.
She was also charged with drug possession and trafficking, supplying drugs to a minor, permitting a place to be used in the commission of a drug offence and unlicensed driving.
The supplying drugs to a minor charge was not related to the drowned boys.
Detective Senior Sergeant David Miles said police will allege the boys’ deaths were a “preventable tragedy”.
“This is something that should have never happened,” he said.
“She’s been solely responsible for the failure, as we are going to allege, in relation to these two young boys.
“This is an investigation that revolves around the care of these young boys and what led to their tragic passing.
“This is a catastrophic result for this family and it is a preventable tragedy.”
Senior Sergeant Miles said it had been an “arduous” five-week investigation.
“We [police] go about our task for the purpose of, in this instance, providing a voice for two young boys who are sadly no longer with us,” he said.
“We have preferred the charges of manslaughter — they are perhaps the highest standard that can be preferred.”
At the time of the deaths, Senior Sergeant Miles said the boys were found in the water within metres of each other.
“They were in a small cutaway area in the river, from recent flood events it’s quite deep, and quite a deep bank, and there’s some vegetation there,” he said.
The boys’ bodies were returned to the Northern Territory where they have ancestral and cultural ties.
They were buried together in one small coffin in Darwin after a funeral service at the city’s Catholic cathedral.
Their mother is expected to appear before the Townsville Magistrates Court on Saturday.