‘Storm in a teacup’: Darwin business owner denies claims child kept in a cage

The Nightly
Darwin business owner Ken Martin said the child was kept in a make-shift play pen, not a cage.
Darwin business owner Ken Martin said the child was kept in a make-shift play pen, not a cage. Credit: Sky News Australia/Sky News Australia

A businessman has denied reports a child was being kept in a cage in an open shed at his industrial property in the Northern Territory.

Instead, Ken Martin told Sky News, the four-year-old had been put in a make-shift playpen to keep him safe while his father, who restores cars, worked.

“The reason he had him here, the lad, was because none of the childcare (centres) would take him because he had some food allergies,” he said.

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“We said he could be here but he had to be safe.”

Police were called to the premises on May 16 after concerns were raised for the boy’s welfare. Territory Families, Housing and Communities and NT Worksafe are now investigating.

But Mr Martin described the incident as a ‘storm in a teacup’.

He said the father was a contractor who had built the playpen with pool fencing and gym mats. He said it wasn’t hot and the child was safe.

It is believed the child has since been offered a place at a daycare centre.

The father used pool fencing and gym mats to keep the boy safe.
The father used pool fencing and gym mats to keep the boy safe. Credit: Sky News Australia

On Tuesday, a Territory Families, Housing and Communities spokesperson said the safety of children was its top priority and any allegation of child harm was taken seriously.

“In the Northern Territory, you must report your concerns if you believe a child is being, or has been, harmed or abused, this includes police who can report suspected harm to our department,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

“We work with children, families, communities, police and relevant agencies to assess and respond to any reports of suspected harm to children.

“We are aware of this matter and are looking into it.”

NT Worksafe said it was alerted to the allegations on May 16 when NT Police raised a safety concern after reports that “a young child had been secured in inappropriate conditions at a worksite”.

Worksafe Inspectors have begun an inquiry into the incident.

NT Police declined to comment.

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