Some of the junk piled up at the Rocklea hoarder house.
Some of the junk piled up at the Rocklea hoarder house.

Filth, faeces, rotting food: Hoarder ordered to clean home

A MAGISTRATE has given a Rocklea family two weeks to clean up the extraordinary mess in their house or Brisbane City Council officers will do it for them.

Council officers have been pursuing the family ever since a public complaint about their 33 Cambridge St, Rocklea, property in January, 2018.

Aerial photos and inspections by officers uncovered an astonishing collection of rubbish, grass up to 2m high and rodent faeces on floors and in a kitchen.

Despite multiple requests, a Public Health Order and an order by a magistrate, much of the rubbish was still there, council's in-house lawyer Mark Thomas told Holland Park Magistrates Court.

Documents tendered to the court stated that two semi-trailers, a truck trailer, car, two long shipping containers, a caravan and large shed were found in the yards.

Some of the junk piled up at the Rocklea hoarder house.
Some of the junk piled up at the Rocklea hoarder house.

Other material was alleged to have been found in the yards or visible in aerial photos included: steel frames; steel mesh, timber and metal beams piled on the ground; fencing material; large stacks of sheet metal; at least 100 pavers; pot plants, steel guttering; two rotted lounge chairs; dead vegetation; plastic furniture; shelves; car parts; a compressor; 20 litre drums; a dismantled Hills hoist; cement mixer; fridges; scaffolding planks; part of a spa; trampoline; various whitegoods on the back veranda plus furniture, stacks of chairs, rolls of carpet, a sink unit, shutter doors, pool fencing, electrical equipment, flattened cardboard boxes, car tyres and mattresses.

A magistrate found there was a vermin risk at the Rocklea house.
A magistrate found there was a vermin risk at the Rocklea house.

"Inside the house there was termite damage, plasterwork had dislodged and termite-damaged structural timber was visible in places,'' Council documents alleged.

"There were holes in the walls, the fridge did not have power and food in the fridge had rotted.

"There was pet food on the floor, rodent faeces in the pantry, food packaging in the pantry had been attacked by rodents, rodent faeces and food waste was on the floor.

"The rear bedroom had rodent faeces on the floor and in, and on top of, the shelves.

"There were numerous soft fabrics in the shelves where there was evidence of rodent nesting.''

Piles of pavers and other material. One part of the garden had grass 2m high and inspectors could not get through it.
Piles of pavers and other material. One part of the garden had grass 2m high and inspectors could not get through it.

Long road to clean up

- Public complaint January 19, 2018

- Council Safety and Amenity Team attend the address February 1

- Rodent Control Officers rat dogs find rodents present, February 18

- Aerial photos viewed on February 14 spot haphazardly stacked items in the back yard

- Council issued Public Health Order on April 20

- Environmental Health Officer finds on May 26 that no action has been taken to clean up

- Council issues second Public Health Order on July 16

- On September 14 Council inspection shows no action has been taken

- Council alleges Teresa Worthley refused its officers entry in December, 2018

- Brisbane Magistrates Court grants Council a warrant to enter premises in March, 2019

- Third Public Health Order issued in April, 2019

- Holland Park Magistrate rules on July 10, 2020 that items are still present and orders their removal by July 27, with Council to inspect progress on July 24. If no action has then be taken Council has until August 14 to clean up the property

Metal poles, car parts and other objects littered the property.
Metal poles, car parts and other objects littered the property.

A Council search of records found the owners included Teresa Margaret Worthley.

Ms Worthley's lawyer told the court her client had attempted to remove some of the material, but it had been difficult to get rid of the rest due to difficulties with her former husband.

Magistrate Simon Young found that the Public Health Order had not been complied with in part because of the "intransigence'' of Worthley's former husband and "completely understand the position Mrs Worthley is in''.

But he ordered the pair jointly comply with the order.

"The timber beams are one of the clearest things harbouring vermin. They must be removed,'' Mr Young said.

"The semi-trailer (near the front boundary) must be removed, although it is unclear whether it is still there. A hole in it would allow vermin to enter and it must be repaired.''

Mr Young said none of the evidence disclosed the actual presence of vermin, but pest baiting would not be sufficient to address the problem.

"The photos clearly display a number of places where rats and particularly mice could be harboured,'' he said.

He gave the Worthleys until July 27 to clean up the property, with Council allowed on site on July 24 to inspect progress.

Originally published as Filth, faeces, rotting food: Hoarder ordered to clean home

A car wreck and piles of wood. The property also had, at one point, two semi-trailers, a truck trailer and a caravan on site.
A car wreck and piles of wood. The property also had, at one point, two semi-trailers, a truck trailer and a caravan on site.
A council inspector outside the home.
A council inspector outside the home.


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