Wednesday 23 August 2017

'We have absolutely no understanding how this could have happened'

Garda preserve scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village,Co Dublin where the body of Hassan Khan (inset) was discovered. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Garda preserve scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village,Co Dublin where the body of Hassan Khan (inset) was discovered. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Hassan Khan's father Saleem Khan
Garda preserve scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village,Co Dublin where the body of Hassan Khan was discovered. Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
Hassan Khan
Garda preserve scene at Ridge Hall in Ballybrack village, Co Dublin. Photo: Stephen Collins

Brian Byrne and  Paul Williams

The uncle of tragic toddler Hassan Khan said the family are "floored" and have "absolutely no understanding how this could have happened".

Gary Waters is the brother of Hassan's mother Hazel Waters (43), who was arrested in connection with the boy's death.

The body of the two-year-old was found at home in the Ridge Hall apartment complex in Ballybrack village in south Dublin on Thursday afternoon.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Mr Waters said: "The whole situation is unfathomable to us. We have absolutely no answers. We have put all our trust in the guards to take this forward. That includes all aspects regarding Hazel and the child, and the father."

A post-mortem examination held yesterday afternoon confirmed that Hassan died as a result of a stab wound to the neck, caused by a pair of scissors.

Mr Waters said he had last seen his sister a week ago, and had not spoken to her since she was detained at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station, where she remained last night.

"I suppose there's nothing to say to her. If I could get a way of giving her a hug without her reacting adversely to it, I would be very pleased. I would trust that she receives whatever assistance she needs," he said.

Gardai, who are conducting a full murder investigation, say they are dealing with a "dreadfully tragic" case.

The HSE had previously launched a child protection inquiry in August after Hassan was the subject of a garda Child Risk Ireland (CRI) alert.

However, on that date, gardai found the boy safe and well in the company of his father Saleem Khan within an hour of the alarm being raised.

A HSE child protection investigation then found that Hazel Waters was capable of raising her son safely.

It has emerged that a HSE child protection official made several attempts to arrange a meeting with Ms Waters as recently as last week.

However, it is understood that the mother had put off a meeting and failed to answer telephone voice and text messages.

A source said: "The official was concerned about Hassan and was anxious to assess his situation at home but Ms Waters had avoided contact."

Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, confirmed it would hand over information to any investigation on the support offered to the boy and his family before his death.

The boy's father, who was informed of the tragedy on Thursday night, was being comforted by family and friends.

It is understood that he formally identified his son's body at Tallaght hospital yesterday.

Mr Waters revealed that his sister had met Saleem (61) in 2008 but never married him.

Detectives, meanwhile, continued to question Hazel Waters at Dun Laoghaire Garda Station yesterday.

Senior officers were granted permission to extend her period of detention and they were also granted a court order enabling them to preserve the apartment for a longer period to continue a forensic examination.

Yesterday the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the family supports made available to Hassan and his family are likely to be examined as part of the investigation into his death.

"Obviously when the gardai are investigating a case they will take all of the circumstances into account and it may be that reports will be called for from other bodies, that is certainly possible in any investigation," she told reporters.

She said it was "a very, very tragic situation" and added her thoughts "are with the young child who has lost his life and the family" at this difficult time.

She said she wasn't "in a position to comment" when asked if more could have been done to help the family.

She added: "Clearly what we want to see generally speaking for families who are in difficulties are the best possible supports being made available.

"The child and family agency is in a position to work with families where they are asked to work with families where children are at risk.

"Obviously you can't cover every situation but clearly where families are in difficulties, what we would want to see are the very best services and supports being made available to families."

She added it was "very good" to have child alerts available.

Irish Independent

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