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Police in armed maternity ward raid at Women's and Children's Hospital

A FATHER cut his baby daughter's umbilical cord, kissed her and passed the infant to the mother. Seconds later, STAR Group officers burst through the bedside curtains and pointed a pistol at his head.

The child was born five minutes before up to 10 heavily-armed STAR Group officers stormed the Women's and Children's Hospital delivery room at 7.05pm on December 10, the father, a violent convicted criminal, claims.

The baby was then taken by Families SA workers - which has prompted Independent MLC Ann Bressington to hit out at "rogue social workers on power trips".

The father was handcuffed, frog-marched to a car, driven home and ordered not to return to the hospital.

Families SA child welfare workers took the baby into care within an hour of its birth.

The father, who has a "very extensive criminal history", was not charged with anything but says he was told he would be arrested if he returned to the hospital.

His lawyer, Michael Figwer, who has relayed the man's account of the dramatic removal of the child from the family to The Advertiser, said there were no outstanding warrants for the man, who cannot be named.

"He cut the umbilical cord and kissed her before passing his daughter to the mother," Mr Figwer said.

"He was sitting between the mother and the wall.

"Two midwives and the man's mother were in the room when the curtain came flying back, as two STAR Group officers armed with tasers, flak jackets and helmets burst through.

"One was armed with a semi-automatic pistol, which was pointed at his head across the bed where the baby was lying on the mother's stomach."

He says there were probably another eight STAR Group officers outside the room in the corridor with machine-guns.

"Families SA staff were in the hospital, in the waiting areas."

Mr Figwer said the father claims he was taken to a stairwell, handcuffed and told he would receive an explanation outside the hospital.

When out of the building, he was given the option of being taken to the City Watch-House to "calm down" or be driven to his home.

At his house, police showed him Section 16 of the Children's Protection Act and told him he would be arrested if he returned to the hospital.

Families SA yesterday confirmed STAR Group officers assisted social workers to take a newborn child from its parents in a delivery room on December 10.

"During an investigation or before an emergency removal, a strategy meeting is held between Families SA, SAPOL and Child Protection Services, where SAPOL determines whether they need to be present or not," Families SA executive director David Waterford said.

"It is SAPOL that makes the risk assessment about a situation ..."

The man, who cannot be named due to a pending Youth Court hearing which will determine who cares for the child, has an extensive criminal record in South Australia and Victoria, with convictions including discharging a firearm in a public place and threatening to cause harm.

He has previously been detained under mental health orders and, in November, prosecutors dropped a charge of aggravated assault with a weapon and hindering police.

SA Police yesterday confirmed STAR Group officers had attended the hospital but refused to comment further.

The Women's and Children's Hospital also confirmed STAR Group officers were at the hospital that day.

Families SA workers were also assisted by police at the hospital on December 14, they revealed, but details are not known.

Ms Bressington, part of a select committee inquiry into Families SA practices, said Families Minister Jennifer Rankine had failed to "rein in the excesses of her department".

"It was my hope that the Minister for Families and Communities, after reading the report into Families SA, would take stock of the identified failings and begin to rein in the excesses of her department," Ms Bressington said yesterday.

"However, instead, it seems that the minister has thumbed her nose at the committee's recommendations and continues to allow her staff to operate with impunity," she said.

"The minister must accept that some of her staff are out of control and that rogue social workers on power trips account for most of the problems experienced by families coming to my office for assistance."

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Added: Jan-15-2010 
By: biggles9
Tags: Police, armed, maternity, ward, raid, task force argos
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