A 12-year-old girl has been charged with the fatal stabbing of an older woman, as it emerged the alleged killer had ‘fallen through the cracks’ of state care and had been ‘running wild’ for years.
Emergency services were called to the former Royal Hotel pub in Footscray around 2am on Thursday following reports of an altercation inside the building and the grim discovery of the lifeless body of a 37-year-old woman.
She had allegedly been stabbed to death.
A girl, 12, who cannot be identified because of her age, was arrested at the scene and taken to the hospital for medical assessment, where she remains under police guard.
She was charged with one count of murder on Thursday night.
Now, it has emerged the child has an intellectual age of six and had repeatedly gone missing from her state care for days at a time, reported The Herald Sun.
One source even told the paper the girl was ‘prostituted out’ – forced to undertake sex work – and was known to Victoria Police.
A youth worker told the paper they had ‘never seen a worse example’ of a child being failed by the state.
‘No one has done anything about this kid’s welfare for the past 12 months,’ he said.
‘People have called the police about this girl and she has fallen through the cracks.
‘This is a welfare issue and no one has picked up on it.’
The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing – which is responsible for children in state care – refused to comment.
The former historic pub on Barkly Street is now understood to be a hostel.
It’s understood an altercation allegedly broke out in the hostel on the upper floors, where the building has been converted into apartments.
Homicide detectives and forensic officers remain at the cordoned off crime scene near Footscray’s main shopping strip on Thursday morning.
Police tape blocked the entrance of the building.
‘Investigators are attempting to establish if the parties were known to each other,’ a police spokesperson said.
Police urge anyone with information, CCTV or dashcam footage to come forward.
Local business owners were shocked to hear about the incident but noted an uptick in crime in the past few years.
‘After the pandemic people are just so agro, I don’t know what’s going on, they get heated up so quickly,’ she said.
‘I had an incident just last night where someone tried to kick in the windows to my shop, I reported it to the police.’