An eight-year-old girl is facing lifelong scars from a “decaying” throat after living in a house with the former police officer’s father.
Northern Territory police allegedly ignored a family’s request to remove mold in the home of a police officer who took his eight-year-old daughter to intensive care with “rotting” throat meat.
Sienna Santiago contracted a severe throat infection after being exposed to mold and mildew at her home in the Tiwi Islands provided by NT police.
The family moved to Pirlangimpi in April 2017 when Sienna’s father Stephen Thomson took over a role in the local police department.
For the next two years, Mr. Thompson claims he repeatedly reported the mold to police management, as well as the remote sergeant on the island.
In March 2019, Siena spent 11 days in intensive care followed by five weeks at the Royal Darwin Hospital and months in rehabilitation.
“Those disabilities will likely last a lifetime,” Thompson told 9 News.
NT Police said they worked closely with relevant agencies and the NT Police Association to ensure members were in adequate accommodation.
“The NT police take police housing matters very seriously,” a spokesperson said.
A contractor was hired in 2019 to provide a property report and a thorough cleaning was undertaken as a result.
The report found “very high levels of mold” throughout the home.
“We got cleaning products to clean it as best we could, but within two weeks it receded and got worse than before it cleaned,” Mr. Thompson told NT News.
“NT WorkSafe is now reviewing the matter and it is appropriate to leave WorkSafe to complete the investigation,” said the spokesperson.
The NT Police Association said housing problems in Pirlangimpi have been ongoing for more than 15 years.
“The mold problem in the home used by Mr. Thomson and his family was first reported to the department in 2003, about 14 years before the Thomson family first moved,” said the NTPA president. Paul McCue.
“There were significant amounts of mold in the hallways and closets, and that’s a problem that has plagued this and other homes for far too long.”
Mr. McCue said that when the officers first raised the issue, they were told to let the air conditioners run for 24 hours to fix the problem.
“Without anticipating the outcome of ongoing investigations, this kind of tragic situation should never be needed to highlight the need to house people appropriately if you want them to work in remote areas,” he said.
The matter was brought to the Independent Commissioner against Corruption.
Originally published as Girl, 8 years old, permanently scarred from moldy police house