Police officers dig on a twelve tribes property near the NSW town of Picton. Picture: ABC
Police officers dig on a twelve tribes property near the NSW town of Picton. Picture: ABC

Grim find on controversial Christian sect’s property

The remains of at least one baby have been found on a NSW property owned by members of controversial Christian sect, the Twelve Tribes, police sources have revealed.

Detectives found the remains in a shallow grave at the remote tract of land at Bigga in the NSW Southern Tablelands during a search on Wednesday afternoon.

Sources say it is too early to confirm whether the remains belong to one infant or two. It is understood the remains, which were in a ­coffin-like box structure, were found about 3pm.

The painstaking removal operation was delayed due to heavy rain and the fragility and age of the remains.

NSW Police have refused to comment officially, saying the "planned police operation" involving detectives from the Blue Mountains concluded yesterday.

 

Police officers dig on a twelve tribes property near the NSW town of Picton. Picture: ABC
Police officers dig on a twelve tribes property near the NSW town of Picton. Picture: ABC

 

 

"There are no further updates in relation to Strike Force Nanegai at this time," police said in a statement.

Officers had been digging since Monday at the Tribe's 78.5ha Bigga property and at its Peppercorn Creek farm in Picton in Sydney's southwest, opposite its popular Common Ground Bakery. The search was suspended on Thursday.

NSW Police executed crime scene warrants at both properties on Monday as part of an investigation by Strike Force Nanegai into the high number of stillbirths and medical neglect within the community.

The raid comes after ­former member Rosemary Cruzado said her late-term stillborn baby was buried at the Bigga property. She ­believes her baby's death could have been avoided if she had seen a doctor earlier in her pregnancy.

Ms Cruzado and other former members alleged the group's lack of medical and prenatal care had contributed to the loss of multiple pregnancies in its communities, which consist of about 90 members living communally at the Picton farm, as well as properties in Katoomba and Coledale near Wollongong.

"I'd just love for them to find my baby so I could give him a proper burial," she said. "And I'd love to see some accountability from the leaders, they really scared us away from using doctors and hospitals, it is not even an option.

 

Rosemary Cruzado is haunted by the loss of her son who was born stillborn while she lived with the Twelve Tribes. Picture: Sam Ruttyn
Rosemary Cruzado is haunted by the loss of her son who was born stillborn while she lived with the Twelve Tribes. Picture: Sam Ruttyn

 

"I would love to see ladies get proper pre-natal care ­because I really believe if I got proper pre-natal care, it could have been preventable. I'd like to see the (lack of) medical (care) come to light so they could change their ways."

The Bigga site has no running water or electricity. Surrounded by thick bushland, the property was originally intended to hold large religious festivals for the community. Ex-members ­allege stillborn babies were disposed of on the Tribe's properties without registration with NSW Health, a ­requirement of all births after 20 weeks.

The strict religious sect, which claims to live by the "First Testament", shuns modern medicine.

It has ­repeatedly denied allegations of child abuse.

 

 

A gathering at the Picton property where members of the strict religious community live.
A gathering at the Picton property where members of the strict religious community live.
Rosemary Cruzado and her family during their time in the Twelve Tribes community in Picton
Rosemary Cruzado and her family during their time in the Twelve Tribes community in Picton


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