An Australian-born mother and her immigrant husband who allegedly beat and tortured their 14 children in a squalid “house of horrors” presented themselves as “the perfect family.”
However, NSW Police allege the couple subjected their children, ranging in age from teenagers to six-month-old babies, to unspeakable abuse.
Police allege much of the abuse took place in a “dirty and dirty” two-story brick house on an otherwise friendly suburban Sydney street.
The house that was allegedly damaged by the mother now stands abandoned and uninhabitable in a suburb that cannot be named for legal reasons.
Both parents were recently charged with a total of 60 offenses relating to a variety of allegations, including that some children were whipped and beaten.
The children were forbidden to attend school and some of them were allegedly given pet-quality food.
Charges the parents face include aggravated assault, indecent assault on a child under 16; Arrest and detention to obtain benefits for sexual, psychological and physical abuse; and intentional sexual touching of a child under 10 years old.
The mother, 44, is also accused of vandalizing and damaging the house where she lives Children were allegedly mistreated, knowingly concealed suspected child abuse and did not inform the police.
Neighbors broke their silence about what they knew about the family from outside their now abandoned and uninhabitable home.
The father, 56, is a migrant who fled his Arabic-speaking homeland after refusing to serve in the country’s army – a crime that was punishable by death at the time.
After serving his time in an internment camp, he became a permanent resident and married an Australian woman of Anglo-American background who converted to Islam.
They allegedly held the family in “atrocious conditions” at their Sydney home.
The mother could be heard screaming at the children inside the house and was rarely seen outside the chain-and-bolt fence unless she was wearing an Islamic niqab.
A neighbor said the father repaired washing machines and other electronics “to pay the bills” and objected to his children not going to school.
He was reportedly traumatized by his past, but was “smiling and helpful” to neighbors and “always walked down the street offering help.”
But one resident said: “I knew there were 13 or 14 children there, we never saw or heard from them.”
Another neighbor said: “The windows were always covered and we only saw the children inside when they waved from the balcony.”
“Except the boys who went out with (the father) and the older girls who went to prayer with (the father) and chased them down the street.
“They had chickens, a sheep and rabbits that escaped into our garden and the father always apologized to us.
“He was very strict, but said he (believed) he was creating a perfect place for all the children.”
“He was very friendly and brought sweets and gifts on (Islamic) holidays.”
“When the house became uninhabitable, it took him a long time to find something suitable for so many children.”