Murray River tragedy: Dad denies trying to cash in
THE father of two boys whose mother allegedly tried to drown them in a river says he was "alienated" from his children, rejecting claims he is trying to benefit from the tragedy by raising money in their name.
The Queensland man, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, has been slammed following an online cash grab, pleading for $5000 from strangers to be able to travel to Victoria to see his surviving son, despite not being in contact with him for years and never having met the five-year-old who died.
The little boy was found floating in the Murray River near the Victoria-NSW border town of Moama and his older brother, nine, was hospitalised after an attempted double drowning by their mother.
The father of the children spoke to news.com.au ahead of his ex-partner's scheduled court appearance on Monday morning.
The 27-year-old failed to front court via videolink, but in a brief hearing was charged by police with murder in addition to the attempted murder charge she was already facing.
Both boys had been looked after by their "heartbroken" grandparents, who say they tried to warn authorities before the horrific incident on Thursday.
"Everything I raise will go to the grandparents and my boys," the boys' father told news.com.au.
"When the grandparents get back from NSW I want to sit down with them for an open talk."
The father, who lives just north of Brisbane, said he had appealed for money on crowd-funding site Gofundme so he could travel from Melbourne, where his surviving son is in an intensive care unit in Melbourne.
He said he hadn't seen his eldest son since he broke up with the boys' mother.
"I've been alienated," he said. "I've had no address, no phone number (for the children) for five or six years."
The man, who described himself as "unemployed but looking", said he needed money for an airline ticket.
"I'm in Melbourne at the moment. Relatives chipped in for the airfare," he told news.com.au.
He said the boys' grandparents would be contacted by people authorised "to speak on my behalf" and he then hoped to speak to them directly.
Originally his Gofundme appeal was $1000 for travel and accommodation. Then friends suggested it be increased to $5000 to cover hospital and funeral costs, said the father.
The appeal, which has so far raised about $1100, sparked a furious backlash, with accusations the man was asking for more money than he actually needed.
"I wouldn't donate my toenail clippings to you," one woman wrote. "You didn't bother about ever seeing your son in the time he was alive and now you need $5000 to go and say goodbye to him.
"That dear little boy needed a dad when he was alive ... You are a disgrace as a father."