Floral tributes for the stepbrothers left on the banks of the Ross River at Cranbrook
Floral tributes for the stepbrothers left on the banks of the Ross River at Cranbrook

Mum allegedly drinking heavily before sons drowned

THE mother of two boys found dead in the Ross River at Townsville was drinking heavily with friends the night before her sons drowned, police have been told.

Just more than a month after her two boys died, Leann Chyrsilla Eatts was yesterday charged with two counts of manslaughter, with police alleging her "gross negligence" resulted in their deaths.

The charges have shocked the state's legal fraternity, with the Queensland Law Society flagging concerns over the criminalisation of parenting.

The Courier-Mail can reveal that police received information that Eatts had been drinking heavily the night before Barak Austral, 5, and Jhulio Sariago, 3, died and was likely sleeping off a hangover when they wandered off unsupervised.

After an extensive search, the boys were found submerged in a steep and deep cutaway of the Ross River in Cranbrook on the morning of February 26.

 

Jhulio Sariago
Jhulio Sariago

 

 

 

Barak Austral
Barak Austral

 

 

Townsville Child Protection and Investigation Unit officer-in-charge detective Senior Sergeant Dave Miles said an arduous investigation led police to allege the boys' deaths would have been prevented had the mother lived up to her responsibilities.

"This is an investigation that revolves around the care of these young boys and what lead to their tragic passing," Sen-Sgt Miles said.

"There is no way these boys should be left in the way they were.

"There is no way (they) should have been allowed to go down to the river, and certainly their deaths under appropriate supervision and management by a parent would have been averted."

Sen-Sgt Miles said police were looking into a range of issues surrounding events leading up to the boy's deaths, including what Eatts was doing when they died.

"(We will allege) for a considerable amount of time there was complete inattention to where these two young boys were," he said.

"We have significant history in relation to the movement of the boys in the days, weeks and even months prior to this particular event."

Eatts, 47, has also been charged with trafficking dangerous drugs and supplying drugs to minors. Sen-Sgt Miles said the drugs charges were separate to the allegations of manslaughter.

 

The boys’ mother Leann Chyrsilla Eatts at a smoking ceremony and memorial service
The boys’ mother Leann Chyrsilla Eatts at a smoking ceremony and memorial service

 

"She has been charged in relation to supplying a dangerous drugs to a minor - those charges do not relate to the deceased boys," he said.

"But they do relate to other minors who have been provided dangerous drugs by her."

Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said these types of cases were rare.

"There is a level of criminal negligence which the death, if it's been caused by your complete disregard, may amount to manslaughter," he said.

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"No doubt the extent of the details will come out in court but I have a broader concern about criminalising parenting unless the negligence is of a really egregious kind."

He said the case could highlight the unintended consequences of laws being proposed by both major parties in Queensland.

The Government's legislation proposes redefining murder so it includes deaths caused "by an act or omission with reckless indifference to human life".

The LNP's legislation would mandate a minimum 15-year jail sentence for people convicted of the manslaughter of a child.

Eatts is faces traffic charges, including driving without a licence.

She will appear in Townsville Magistrates Court today, when police will oppose bail.