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Luke Borusiewicz Inquest

July 25, 2012 permalink

An inquest has opened into the death of Luke Borusiewicz. It is unusual for the press to name a dead foster child in Australia, even when a coronial inquest is taking place. Maybe they thought concealment was futile after father Michael Borusiewicz spent years publicizing his son's death on the internet. In an earlier story, Michael's name and face were blotted out.



Child safety worker had 'no choice' when placing toddler Luke Borusiewicz in care

AN inquest into the death of a two-year-old foster child has heard his Cairns-based Child Safety Services caseworker was given ''no choice'' when it came to the home he was placed in.

Luke Borusiewicz died in January, 2009 after suffering a head injury while he was in the care of an elderly woman.

An inquest into his death opened in Cairns today, and his caseworker Elizabeth Bartley was asked whether she made the final decision regarding his placement.

''In theory, yes - but in practice I wasn't given a choice about who Luke was to stay with,'' she said.

''I was a very junior, new person.''

Ms Bartley said her supervisor made the decision, and that there was no other option but for Luke to stay with the woman in her 70s, who was looking after 3 to 4 other foster children.

She said she had "absolutely no idea" where Luke would have been placed if the carer was unavailable.

He had been with the carer for about three weeks when he slipped into a coma and died as a result of a head injury.

The inquest is set down for three days and will examine the circumstances around Luke's placement and the capabilities of his foster carer.

Source: Cairns Post

Addendum: Day two. The name of the failing foster mother is suppressed.



Foster system full before boy’s death

A toddler who died in the care of an elderly woman was placed with her largely because there were no other foster parents available, an inquest has been told.

Two-year-old Luke Borusiewicz died in hospital on January 12, 2009, after he fell from his bed while in foster care.

At the inquest into his death on Thursday, former Families Plus placement support worker Colleen Lowe said the organisation had tried urgently to find a foster carer for Luke before Christmas 2008.

‘‘There were very few options,’’ she told the inquest in Cairns.

When asked if the then 74-year-old foster carer, who cannot be named, had expressed reluctance to look after Luke, Ms Lowe said ‘‘she did’’.

‘‘She felt that he required a level of supervision that she could not provide,’’ Ms Lowe said.

Despite this, the carer agreed to look after the boy.

Families Plus far north Queensland regional manager Jeanene Lynam said there was a shortage of emergency carers at the time.

‘‘There were three carers identified ... two were unavailable,’’ Ms Lynam told the inquest.Ms Lynam said her organisation was no longer responsible for finding emergency care for children.

Earlier on Thursday, forensic pathologist Dr Paull Botterill said he found Luke’s cause of death to be head injuries consistent with falling out of bed onto a hard surface.

The inquest, before Coroner Kevin Priestly, is due to conclude on Friday.

Source: Brisbane Times

Addendum: The final day. The news disclosed the name of Luke's mother, Jacqueline Hurlstone.



Father's call for change after harrowing inquest into death of two-year-old son

Luke Borusiewicz
Searching for answers: Luke Borusiewicz, 2, died in foster care in January 2009. His father, Luke Borusiewicz wants the State Government to change the rules for foster carers.

THE heartbroken father of a toddler who died in a Cairns foster home will channel his anguish into a campaign urging the State Government to tighten its criteria for carers.

Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Luke Borusiewicz, 2, died in January 2009 after hitting his head at a 74-year-old foster carer’s home while she was most likely passed out due to illness.

His father and mother Jackie Hurlstone sobbed yesterday as the final day of a coronial inquest heard he may have been unconscious for almost six hours before an ambulance was called.

Mr Borusiewicz was adamant when he spoke afterwards that "Lukey didn’t die for nothing", and he will now turn his attention to lobbying the State Government for more stringent foster carer criteria.

It emerged during the inquest that the elderly foster carer, who cannot be identified, had up to five children in her care and the toddler’s parents had complained repeatedly to Child Safety Services about the situation.

Yesterday, the manager of the department’s Far North Queensland operations admitted in court she did not return the phone calls of Mr Borusiewicz, who was a recovering drug addict at the time working to be reunited with his son.

His solicitor, Sandra Sinclaire of Bottoms English Lawyers, said Mr Borusiewicz was "rendered impotent by a system that didn’t want to hear his concerns".

"He intends to lobby the State Government about there being a maximum age for carers, a limit on the number of children placed in their care, parents being able to be considered as respite carers and mandatory response times to concerns raised by parents," she said.

The three-day inquest heard Luke was put in the woman’s care on Christmas Eve, 2008, despite her initial reluctance because she already had four foster children living with her.

She relented after a second phone call from agency Families Plus, which organised carers on behalf of Child Safety Services at the time.

On January 12, 2009, the carer was ill and coping with an upset Luke, who threw a tantrum because bad weather had stopped him visiting his father.

A nine-year-old child changed Luke’s nappy and fed him lunch as the woman succumbed to her illness, later estimating she passed out about three times.

While she slept, it is thought Luke fell from a bed and hit his head.

An ambulance was called when the woman could not wake him at 4.45pm.

Mr Borusiewicz’s barrister, Nerida Wilson, told the inquest during closing submissions yesterday that Luke could have hit his head as early as 11am.

He spent six days in a coma with a fractured skull before he died.

Ms Wilson said the carer told Families Plus she was ill on the morning of Luke’s death, but there was some confusion over whether she asked for help.

Mr Borusiewicz and Ms Hurlstone had complained that their son could not be supervised properly in a house of five children with an elderly carer.

"The parents’ concerns were never allayed, and when you look back there was justification for their concerns," Ms Wilson said.

Child Safety Services’ barrister, Karen Carmody, said changes had been made to the manual given to foster carers, urging them to contact the department if they needed temporary respite due to illness.

She said the elderly woman was a "magnificent carer" and the incident was a "tragic accident" that could have happened anywhere.

Coroner Kevin Priestly gave his condolences to Luke’s parents at the end of the inquest.

"I just can’t imagine what it would be like to actually have a child pass away; I think everyone here could not think of a greater loss," he said.

Mr Priestly is examining the circumstances surrounding Luke’s foster care placement, and will hand down his findings at a later date.

Source: Cairns Post

Addendum: Father Michael Borusiewicz expresses his disappointment with the process.



Michael Borusieiwicz Everytime my barrister tried to talk about how Luke died the judge would stop her. The whole case was just total bullshit. I am a bit of a mess. Luke was the best thing that has ever happened to me, and since I lost him I have have tried to make up for it by helping everyone I can, and just about all of them have lied, ripped me off, and everything else. I am just gonna worry about me for a bit. I have a thousand dollar loan to pay off that I took out for someone who had lost their kids to help them get their lives back on track, they didn't even contact me to wish me luck in the inquest. I have given absolutely everything I have to everyone I could, which has left me constantly vulnerable and broke. I have to get my life back together,

Michael Borusieiwicz amongst so much else, is that Luke's uncle was a foster carer who tried so hard to get him, instead, two days before Luke's head was caved in and he was left to die, DoCS placed two aboriginal children with his uncle, and refused to put Luke there. The old lady died, and every time my barrister tried to expose it, the judge shut her down. It was just all bullshit. I walked out at the end when the DoCS barrister started saying how well they looked after him. 12 foster carers homes he was shifted around to i six months, starting from the age of one year old.

They also refused legal aid for my legal team, even though Luke's mother was granted legal aid. and it goes on and on what they have done

Source: Facebook, Michael Borusieiwicz
The surname is intentionally misspelled on Facebook.

Coroner Kevin Priestly has issued his final report on Luke's death. Luke suffered fatal injuries while his caretaker, anonymized to "Joy", was sleeping off her prescription drug dose. The report excuses Joy and the child care bureaucracy from culpability in the death. One of the coroner's observations come from the standard script: the circumstances surrounding Luke's death in January 2009 should be used as a case study in training foster carers and Child Safety officers in awareness of fatigue.

The Courier-Mail published an article under the byline of Michael Borusiewicz but written in the style of a professional reporter. At least the father's picture can now be published without blurring.



Child Safety took my boy away and they gave him back to me dead

Michael Borusiewicz and Luke Borusiewicz
LOOKING FOR ANSWERS: Michael Borusiewicz with his son Luke who died whilst in foster care.
Source: Supplied
Luke Borusiewicz
LITTLE BOY LOST: Luke in Cairns Base Hospital.
Source: Supplied

SHE was tired, her medication sent her into a deep sleep and while she was unaware of what was happening, a little boy in her care died.

The tragic case of two-year-old Luke Borusiewicz has been flagged by a Queensland coroner as a reason to help the state's foster carers manage their fatigue.

Luke died in January 2009 while in the care of a 74-year-old woman who had three other foster children staying with her when she drifted into a deep sleep.

She has been cleared of any blame in his death but the case has highlighted the strains on the individuals who make the system work, and has left Luke's biological father angry.

Luke died after suffering a fractured skull in a fall from his bed while his carer was sleeping off fatigue caused by a change in her medication.

An inquest heard it was up to five-and-a-half hours before she discovered the little boy was unconscious and called an ambulance. The Cairns woman has been identified only as Joy.

Luke's father Michael Borusiewicz raised concerns at the inquest into his son's death over Joy's capability to care for so many youngsters. He also pointed to previous injuries sustained by the boy at the home as an indication of the woman's difficulty managing.

But Coroner Kevin Priestly yesterday found that Joy understood her limitations and acted within them.

"Finally, the number of children in Joy's care had no bearing on the circumstances of Luke's fall, the fact that Luke was not supervised when he fell, nor the delay in discovering he'd fallen and suffered a head injury," he said in a written finding.

The coroner also found no evidence that Child Safety failed in its responsibilities to care for and protect Luke or that the support provided to the carer by the Families Plus agency was inadequate.

But he said the circumstances surrounding Luke's death in January 2009 should be used as a case study in training foster carers and Child Safety officers in awareness of fatigue.

Luke's father dismissed the findings as "bullshit".

"Child Safety took my boy away and they gave him back to me dead," he said.

Mr Borusiewicz said he would put his energy into the Luke's Army group he formed for people battling child services. "I've lost my boy. When it happened to me, there was no one. I want to make sure other people have someone to go to," he said.

The inquest heard that Luke was removed from his parents Mr Borusiewicz and Jacqueline Hurlstone in July 2008 and placed in foster care. A change in the carer's personal circumstances meant Luke had to leave on Christmas Eve and, because Joy had provided respite care previously, she was asked to take him. Despite some reluctance, she agreed.

A girl, 9, and a boy, 3, were living with her in the three-bedroom house and on January 11 a girl, 12, arrived for a few days' emergency placement.

A regular contact visit between Luke and his dad the following day was cancelled due to flooding. Mr Borusiewicz rang the house just after 11am and Joy told him Luke had had a tantrum and gone to bed.

Mr Priestly found that Joy went to rest soon afterwards and slept until about 1.45pm when the 12-year-old girl was picked up.

"Joy laid down intending to rest and nap but fell into a deep sleep leaving the children unsupervised, an unintended consequence of her fatigue," he wrote.

The coroner found that soon after the carer fell asleep, Luke became upset and started jumping on his bed. The nine-year-old and, possibly the 12-year-old, saw him fall and hit his head on the metal bed frame and lino floor, causing a severe injury.

There was evidence that one of the girls put Luke back in his bed. Mr Priestly said he considered they did not understand the seriousness of his condition.

When she woke, Joy checked on Luke and thought he was asleep. It was not until between 4.30pm and 5pm, when she tried to wake the toddler, that she realised he was unconscious and called an ambulance. Luke had emergency surgery at Cairns Base Hospital for a fractured skull and swelling and bleeding to the brain but died six days later.

Forensic pathologist Dr Paul Botterill could not say whether the delay between the injury and treatment had any effect other than generally, the earlier the intervention, the better the chance of survival.

There was no evidence suggesting mistreatment.

Mr Borusiewicz had raised concerns about a burn and bruising when Luke was in respite care earlier with Joy. But the coroner accepted they were accidental injuries normal to a two-year-old.

Source: Courier-Mail (Australia)