Saturday, August 29, 2015

Dad sets three children on fire (Perth, Australia)

Dad is identified as EDWARD JOHN HERBERT.

Perth girl doused in petrol and set alight hours after birthday party

A YOUNG girl who should be celebrating her fourth birthday on Monday is instead fighting for life in hospital after being doused with petrol and set alight.

Hours after an early birthday party, the three-year-old suffered “horrendous” burns to her face and upper body when she was allegedly set alight as she slept in her cot.

Neighbours who came to the aid of the girl and her siblings, who were also doused with petrol, were confronted by the horrific scene just after midnight Saturday on Holbeck Street, Doubleview.

The children’s mother ran from the home screaming, “He’s set the kids on fire”, a shocked resident told PerthNow.

An off-duty policewoman living across the road administered first aid and plunged the three-year-old in her bath to ease the burns.

Another resident confronted a man at the home and used a “chokehold” to restrain him.

Edward John Herbert, 43, believed to be the children’s dad, appeared in Perth Magistrates Court on Saturday afternoon on five charges of aggravated grievous bodily harm, attempted grievous bodily harm, being armed with a filleting knife and dousing a victim in petrol.

The three-year-old girl was in a critical but stable condition at Princess Margaret Hospital late Saturday night, while her six-year-old sister and seven-year-old brother were both stable.

The shirtless and tattooed self-employed tiler, handcuffed and surrounded by four police officers in the dock, told the court he understood some of the charges before lapsing into an unresponsive state.

“He appears to have gone into some sort of state. He’s not responding,” Magistrate Jennifer Hawkins said as Herbert fell silent, bowed his head, closed his eyes and pulled strange faces.

Ms Hawkins said the accused needed to be seen by a mental health nurse and he was remanded in custody to reappear in court on Tuesday.

He then collapsed as he was dragged out of the dock.

Mr Herbert’s Facebook page reveals he loves his bull mastiff-staffordshire terrier dog and is proud of his many tattoos, including a homemade tattoo of a cross on his knuckle.

Mr Herbert collapsed during his court appearance on Saturday afternoon.

He also has his children’s names tattooed on his neck and has posted photos of them draped in the Australian flag.

The former Brisbane man captioned one photo: “My baby boy asleep love him to bits.”

In another post, he described one of his daughters as “my baby girl”.

One Holbeck Street resident said: “The children’s mother screamed, ‘Help, help, he’s set the kids on fire’.

“The two elder children appeared OK, they just smelled of fuel. But the youngest ... she was burnt horrendously. It just frightened the hell out of me.”

Another resident told how he restrained a man at the home until police arrived and took him into custody. “I ran into the house and put him in a chokehold until the cops arrived and soon enough he was out cold in a couple of seconds, ”the resident, who did not want to be named, said. “The house was a complete mess.”

Police were first called at 12.05am to reports of a man creating a disturbance.

At the scene, police officers were told that flammable liquid had been poured inside the house, with three children set on fire.

Neighbours came running to the house in Doubleview after hearing the children’s mum scream for help.

Detectives spent about an hour inside the house Saturday morning and left with a number of items.

A police spokeswoman said the investigation was ongoing and further charges were expected.

Other neighbours living in the street said they also saw a man arguing with a taxi driver on Thursday outside the home.

City of Stirling councillor Stephanie Proud, who lives near Holbeck Street, said she was “horrified that could happen anywhere, much less Doubleview”.

Former chairman of the Scarborough Beach Association and local real estate agent Tom O’Rourke, who also lives nearby, described the attack as “awful”.

“My heart goes out to the family. I’m shocked it can happen in such a quiet suburb. Society is really at the crossroads,” he said.