An Illawarra FaCS worker accused of beating a mute autistic boy was brought undone when the child's parents grew suspicious and sent him to respite care with a tape recorder concealed in his bag, a court has heard.
Police will allege disability support worker Lennard Michael Downes, 35, can be heard verbally and physically abusing the boy on the recording, which was taken over a two day period at a government-run care centre in November last year.
It is alleged Downes repeatedly calling the boy a “f—king c—t” while trying to feed him and threatened to hit him if he didn’t eat.
The recording also picked up several sounds, which were described in court documents as slapping, banging and hitting sounds.
The boy, who has a severe mental disability and requires around-the-clock care, returned home from the stay sporting a mark on his face below his mouth, which later developed into a large bruise.
His mother said he started refusing to eat, especially from a spoon, and began rapidly losing weight.
Court documents said the parents reviewed the audio recording, and upon discovering its disturbing contents, immediately reported the matter to police and managers at the group home.
It is alleged the boy can be heard crying, whimpering and gasping for air in between verbal abuse and sounds that will be alleged are from Downes slapping and hitting the child.
Court documents said a pediatric specialist reviewed the boy’s injuries in the days after the incident and found the location, shape and colour of the bruising on his face was “consistent with the victim’s jaw being forced open and/or closed”.
Downes was arrested on December 22 and charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm. He was released on strict bail.
During his first court appearance on Thursday, Downes indicated he would defend the charge. He also sought to relax a condition of his bail banning him from having contact with children unless supervised.
Police prosecutor Sergeant Paul Upsall opposed the variation.
“The factual circumstances alleged are horrendous,” he said.
Magistrate Michael Stoddart agreed and refused the vary Downes’ bail.
The case returns to court on March 15.
Downes has been suspended from his job but remains on full pay.