On the second day of the inquest, details about the sad life that Chloe had been living came out. Nikki Behsmann testified that she had been the one who took care of Chloe while Ashlee and Benjamin hung out in the living room doing drugs and drinking. If Chloe tried to leave her room, she was yelled at so she sat in her room crying. Nikki said that she was witness to other abuses that Chloe suffered:

"Ben asked a friend, want to see something funny, and said he'd made Chloe stand in the
corner for several hours while he was drinking and taking drugs. He later went into her room
and found she had fallen asleep, he woke her up and made her stand in the corner until morning"

Nikki told the Coroner how Chloe, at the age of only three years old, had said she hated her mother. It was brought out that Families SA had been warned 20 times before the death of Chloe and nothing was ever done. Ashlee apparently had people help her clean up and try to make the home presentable whenever a "planned" inspection was going to take place.

Krystal Lee Benyk told the Coroner about how she tried to love, care for and protect Chloe from her parents from the day she was born. Krystal had been the one to clean vomit off of Chloe and wash her filthy hair and after she would play with her and she would have her for several weeks at a time because Benjamin and Ashlee would not answer the phone. Krystal tried calling Families SA, but her many calls never produced any help for Chloe. Ashlee had been 15 years old when she asked Krystal to be Chloe's Godmother:

"It was an honor to have a child to look after and guide through life"

Krystal testified that she didn't remain happy about the situation for very long because Ashlee smoked Cannabis all through her pregnancy and now she was watching as the child was raised in a dirty house with drug and alcohol abuse taking place:

"I would visit often and stay overnight to help with Chloe. I think Ashlee had post natal depression,
at times she wouldn't want to be around Chloe. I would take care of feeds, changing nappies, bathing.
I would do a lot of that in the first three months of Chloe's life. It was pretty filthy, bottles that had baked
in curdled milk, dishes growing stuff in the sink, you couldn't walk on the floors because they were
sticky. The house was known by local teenagers as a place you could go to do anything you wanted
because there were no parents. Smoking cigarettes and marijuana, doing meth, drinking. After three
months, I couldn't be around neglectful people"

Krystal said that she would clean caked on vomit from under Chloe's chin, it had been there for days. Krystal agreed to meet in a public place so she could take Chloe to her home, at first it was only overnight and then for weekends and eventually for weeks at a time. Ashlee wanted to go out and she couldn't leave Chloe alone:

"When she was two years old, I was supposed to have her for a weekend and Ashlee
would pick her up on the Sunday, but it never happened. I spent the week trying to find
her, she was uncontactable. The longest I had her, solely, just me, was probably four or
five weeks, even a bit longer"

Krystal never asked and was never told why Ashlee would leave Chloe for so long:

"It didn't really matter to me, what mattered to me was Chloe and if she was with me, I was
happy to care for her. Ashlee didn't care about herself, about putting herself in danger, she
wouldn't care about putting her child in danger either"

Krystal said that as long as Chloe was with Ashlee, she was in danger with broken bongs in the home, drugs, alcohol and once she found a moldy glass that had a spider in it, in the play room as well as Chloe always smelling like Marijuana:

"Her hair was always dirty, it was dark brown or black until you washed it, then it would
be light brown"

The obvious lack of attention and neglect of Chloe by Ashlee was called to attention whenever she would try to pick her up and Chloe would scream:

"Chloe told me she hated her mum, at three years old. I told her she didn't, that you don't
hate mum, you just don't like her right now. She was adamant she hated her"

At one point, Krystal picked Chloe up and all she'd had to drink or eat was a bottle of curdled milk and she was so sick Krystal took her to the hospital where she was admitted over night:

"I stayed with her overnight. I called Ashlee and she said she was off her face on drugs
and wouldn't be able to come"

At that point, Krystal called Families SA several times and tried to get help for Chloe, though she was afraid if Ashlee found out, she wouldn't let her see Chloe anymore:

"I hoped they would follow up, that something would happen. I knew there were many
people that would have Chloe in their care, I was hoping that she would get taken from
Ashlee and put somewhere. I would have had Chloe in my care"

Krystal said that when Benjamin came into the picture is when things really got worse for Chloe and that the abuse she suffered was worse and at that point, she was cut out of their lives:

"Ashlee said that was apparently because in my home, I had no rules or boundaries for
Chloe and I would let her get away with anything. Apparently, that came from Ben"

At that point, Krystal said she gave up, after four and a half years, on trying to get help for Chloe because it seemed that no matter happened, Families SA didn't care and wasn't doing anything to protect this little Angel. Krystal apologized for giving up.

SADLY, Child Development Minister Jennifer Rankine didn't seem to realize how much of a role her agency had played in the death of Chloe. Jennifer gave her condolences to Chloe's family, but didn't apologize at all for how things were handled, choosing only to say that a review of Families SA would be the factor to determine if her death could have been prevented in any way:

"But let's be really clear, the people responsible for the death of this girl are now in jail"

Sorry, Jennifer, SOME of the people responsible are in jail, others, such as those who IGNORED complaints and repeated warnings for FOUR years, are probably never going to see the inside of a jail cell that they will call home.

Jennifer went on to say:

"What we had here were two really stupid, inconsiderate people who defy any reason or any
logic. How could you treat a tiny child like they treated this little one, who dearly love them,
is beyond anyone's reasonable comprehension. This is a tragic event, ti's shocking for all
South Australians to see and hear the circumstances surrounding the death of this little girl"

What is beyond ME, Jennifer, is that you think this child LOVED these people after it was said by someone who loved her and took very good care of her, that she HATED her mother. You're right though, there were really stupid, inconsiderate people NOT looking out for her, those included in that are the staff at Families SA.

Jennifer said that now the Government would allow for extra resources to Parliaments Child Death and Serious Injury Review Committee to speed up the investigation and that funding and staff had been increased for protecting children, but she said that there is no "silver bullet" to prevent abuse:

"There is no silver bullet for stupidity, for idiocy, for people who have no regard, clearly
no love for a little girl"

Once again i say, this can apply to YOU, Jennifer and any other employee who never raised a finger to help keep this precious little girl alive. Jennifer went on:

"There is no system in the world that can guarantee you're not going to have some idiot
out there on any given day doing something so inappropriate"

Jennifer, you are a special kind of IDIOT. The system didn't even TRY to fix this situation, they didn't visit the home, they didn't listen to the many complaints over four years and they ignore the needs of this child. Of course a system is not going to work properly if it's not RUN and USED properly. You don't wait until child dies and then try to make excuses for what happened, you take the child, talk to her, check out the situation THOROUGHLY and don't put her back into a home where the adults are doing drugs and drinking.

Belinda Valentine, Chloe's grandmother, said she was not blaming the Social Workers who had been dealing with Ashlee:

"We are not holding you responsible, personally, but there's a flaw in the system. You can
only try so much when your hands are tied"

I guess Belinda didn't really know that for over four years, complaints came in and were ignored, that's not tied hands, that lazy workers who want to get paid for NOT doing their jobs.

Belinda said that she knew Ashlee had above average intelligence and that she was a manipulative person who would put on a show for Families SA:

"Ashlee could on them in an instant. If they turned up unannounced, well you can't be on show
but that's not their policy. She knew the system, she knew the cracks in the system and there
are a lot of people like her"

The Education Department Deputy Chief Executive of Child Safety was David Waterford and he claimed that Families SA played a very intense roll in their involvement with Chloe and Ashlee and that they had received at least 22 complaints about this child. Belinda wanted to know how many complaints had to come in before a child would be taken from a home for their own protection:

"Only 22, really? How about only two or only five or may only 15 or 20? There were
22 according to them and that wasn't enough"

Belinda said that if they felt they only had 22 complaints, their record keeping was inaccurate and that they had been told over and over that Ashlee was a drug addict:

"Ashlee never wanted their support. She believed they were interfering right from the start.
Any monetary support, she took it readily but it didn't flow through to Chloe. Realistically, the
Social Worker was attached to the wrong person, they should have been attached to Chloe.
They supported Ashlee, supported Ashlee, supported Ashlee. Nobody was there for Chloe"

Chloe's father said that his daughter should have been removed from that home a long time ago:

"They take kids from people that don't deserve to have them removed and leave the kids
that do need to be taken away, with their parents. 22 notifications is enough, I think"
Tom Valentine

Tom was upset that there had never been any drug or psychological testing done on Ashlee saying:

"No, that's taking away Ashlee's rights, but what about Chloe's rights. Chloe loved Ashlee,
she would do anything for Ashlee. It doesn't mean you don't fear someone if you love them.
She was frightened and there was nothing we could do about it"

Then came the discussions about how Chloe was forced to ride the motorcycle over and over during a three day period and if she fell, she was forced to get back on. Belinda said:

"We have a system working to a certain degree, how can we make it better. There are cracks
in the system. The problem is there's no feedback from Families SA. They are a nameless,
faceless agency. Nothing can bring Chloe back, but we just hope that the authorities will listen
more closely to people who are close to these children. We're not doing it out of spite or
vindictiveness, we're doing this out of love and care. We need to stand up and sa, where did
things go wrong. Ultimately, children are the responsibility of the whole community. Start asking
questions, start saying that one child is one too many. 22 reports, that's too many. People think
it's never going to happen in their families. It does and it can"

Belinda said that Chloe had been a loving and caring child, though she was shy around people she didn't know, she was a clown when she was with her family and she didn't like anyone being sad, she probably would have been someone very important:

"We go to have Chloe in our life. We got to feel her love. We are extremely lucky because if eve
there was an Angel on Earth, she was it"

Belinda said that Ashlee could get life without parole and it wouldn't bring Chloe back and that for her family, at least she was going to be in for the term of what had been Chloe's life and she will be alone, pretty much like Chloe had been.

The inquest was set to resume in December of 2014.

Thank you to Lisa for letting me know about the inquest.
This page was created on June 17, 2014
Death occurred in Australia

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