By Nick Sas
It is a quiet cul-de-sac typical of north-west suburban Sydney.
Simple brick homes with small backyards for the kids to run around in are surrounded by apartment complexes slowly springing up in the distance.
Nothing much happens here — and that’s the way the people of Carlingford, about 25km from of the centre of Sydney, like it.
“It’s such a quiet place,” local resident and teacher Ted Kowalski told the ABC. “The quietest.”
At 7:00am yesterday, that changed forever.
A “horrible, brutal crime” took place. A “sweet little boy” — a five-year-old — was stabbed, and later died.
His 36-year-old father is accused of his murder.
‘Oh my god’
The shock was summed up a Carlingford resident driving past the crime scene yesterday.
Pulling over and approaching the ABC to find out what happened, the woman, a local mother, gasped when told of the news.
“Oh my god,” she said, touching her heart.
“That’s just … oh my god, that’s just awful.
I can’t believe that’s happened — especially here of all places.”
The woman, Melissa, who did not want her surname published, had her infant child in the back of her car and was on the way to pick up her young kids at the nearby public school.
“I hope my kids are alright,” she said.
She later told the ABC the children at the school had been informed by the deputy principal about the incident.
The kids were doing okay.
The man accused
Neighbours told the ABC the 36-year-old father, who was charged with murder late yesterday, was a mechanic but had not worked for a month.
He had been unwell and spent some time in hospital. The phrase “financial hardship” was also mentioned.
“I think they were going through tough times,” neighbour Natalie Lewin said.
Ms Lewin’s husband Hank said he and the 36-year-old “were mates”. He said the father was “an easygoing Aussie bloke” and they would occasionally share beers and talk about cars and the footy.
Neighbours Hank and Natalie Lewin said the man had become withdrawn over the past month. (ABC News: supplied)
He also described him as a “doting father”.
“It’s shocking,” he said. “He cared for that boy and held him and nursed him like you would you own son.
“I can’t imagine…,” he said, trailing off.
However, in the past month both Hank and Natalie said the man, who had lived in the house for six months, had withdrawn and would only wave hello.
“In the past month he didn’t say anything,” Ms Lewin said. “You’d try to talk to him but he wasn’t talking.”
Later in the day Hank and Natalie brought their own children back home, children who had played with the five-year-old.
They were forced to navigate through the police tape which had engulfed their own home, the one adjacent to yesterday’s crime scene.
Holding their hands, they led them back into their home.
“I don’t know what I’m going to tell my kids,” Ms Lewin said earlier in the day.
It is a conversation no parent ever wants to have.
Neighbours said she would look after her grandson often.
Yesterday, the tragic pictures of her being comforted by police said a thousand words.
Police said after the boy was stabbed, the grandmother, aged in her 60s, tried to shield him from the attack.
She then took him to a nearby street and called triple-0.
“She’s behaved in a heroic and caring manner,” NSW Police Superintendent Rob Critchlow said.
“She was presented with something terrible and she’s done her best to get the young boy to safety.”
But it was too late.
The five-year-old died 20 minutes after arriving at the Children’s Hospital at Westmead.
The child’s grandmother was being treated by the NSW Ambulance for shock at a nearby church but was physically uninjured.
Her son, and father of the five-year-old, is set to face Parramatta Court today.