The mother of six-year-old Charlie who died in Adelaide last week has spoken out about the heartbreak of missing her little girl and her “cheeky smile”.
Charlie was found unresponsive in her family home in Munno Para on Friday morning and was rushed to hospital but died soon after arrival, sparking a police investigation into suspected neglect.
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It has since been revealed the little girl lived with a health condition that could lead to malnutrition.
Major Crime detectives returned to the home on Thursday as investigations continue.
Breaking her silence for the first time a week on, mum Crystal Nowland has shared her devastation of missing “everything” about her “headstrong” and playful little girl.
“I’m not a perfect mum, but I’m not the mum they’ve made me out to be,” she told the Adelaide Advertiser on Thursday.
“I might do things a*** to front, back to front, but I fed (her) all the time.
“Every payday – Thursday morning – at 7.30 I’d be at Foodland (to shop).”
Just two weeks before her death, the youngster was photographed sitting outside wearing a pink tracksuit in a poignant final image.
Nowland said she frantically performed CPR on Charlie, however, the youngster could not be saved.
Charlie’s cause of death was found to be malnutrition, 7NEWS reports.
Family members told 7NEWS Charlie suffered from a hereditary heart condition and a close friend said she had also been diagnosed with coeliac disease, an illness that causes the digestive system to work less effectively and can sometimes lead to malnutrition.
Nowland said she had only learnt Charlie had the conditions when she spoke to the corner after her daughter died.
She said they told her there was nothing she could have done to save Charlie.
The heartbroken mum said she missed her little girl and her “cheeky smile”.
“I miss her so much,” she said. “I miss her little jokes, just the little silly things.”
Pointing the finger
Nowland claimed she had been let down by the system and said she repeatedly asked for more support from the SA government’s Department of Child Protection (DCP) after her partner – who stabbed her last year while high on ice in front of Charlie – was sent to prison.
But she said visits from wellbeing workers did not increase.
Charlie’s father stabbed Nowland three times in front of the six-year-old while he was on meth, according to multiple media reports of his sentencing hearings.
He reportedly pleaded guilty to an aggravated charge of causing harm and was sentenced to five years and nine months behind bars.
“I never got no help since I was stabbed,” Nowland told the Advertiser.
“I had to train my leg … to walk again. I couldn’t even remember how to drive a car.”
Nowland said DCP staff visited the home days before Charlie’s death.
“They see Charlie all the time,” she said.
“If I was such a bad mum why didn’t they do anything?”
Neighbours told 7NEWS they had contacted the DCP on multiple occasions in recent months with concerns about Charlie’s welfare and the conditions of the home, but nothing was done.
“The system failed her and I think it’s disgusting,” one neighbour said.
Authorities confirmed Charlie’s family had contact with multiple SA government agencies – including DCP, police, housing and education – before her death, and a government review was ordered of their interactions with the family in recent years.
Child Protection Minister Katrine Hildyard on Tuesday said the department was an incredibly complex system, but one that “had to do better”.
“I and our government will be relentless in our efforts to improve the system,” she said.