A GRIEVING father is suing the New South Wales Crown Office after he was sent chilling pictures of his dead son and stepson who were killed in Coffs Harbour in 2007.
Robert Heusdens has been slowly rebuilding his life after the incident in which his son Michael, 2, and stepson Trevor, 11, were found dead in a Coffs Harbour motel in June 2007 – killed by his ex-partner, who then committed suicide in a toilet block in Dorrigo National Park.
Living in Cairns, Mr Heusdens had a new partner and had returned to his job as a truck driver.
However, an horrific delivery from the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office shattered all of that, turning his life into a living nightmare again.
Two years later, Mr Heusdens was sent a box of documents relating to the upcoming inquest into the three deaths, which included chilling photographs of the dead children and his ex-partner, Tonya Madden.
“I was a mess, I was throwing up and couldn’t physically read anymore,” Mr Heusdens said. “Those pictures play out in my mind every day. I’ve been having flashbacks and nightmares ever since I opened that box.”
Mr Heusdens has now launched a civil claim against the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office.
His solicitor, Bill King, of Shine Lawyers, said his client was devastated and now suffers post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Our client had managed to survive through what was a shocking tragedy but now he is suffering a severe psychological illness which is significantly affecting his personal and work life,” Mr King said.
According to Mr King, the NSW Crown Solicitor’s Office had subsequently asked for the box to be returned and had admitted the material should not have been sent.
“Living through these traumatic events once is more than anyone should have to endure but being forced to live through them twice and in such graphic detail is inhumane,” Mr King added.