According to police, the “very sick” boy, whose name was Makai, was taken to hospital by his father on February 10. He died later that day.
The post-mortem found Makai died from “several serious” health issues.
The death was not initially deemed suspicious, however that changed following evidence obtained from various child protection agencies as part of a standard coronial investigation, as well as the opinion of a pediatric expert.
“(Investigators) formed the view that sufficient grounds existed to commence a criminal investigation for an offense of criminal neglect causing death,” Detective Superintendent Des Bray said on Monday afternoon.
Suspected criminal neglect causing death can carry a sentence of life in prison.
“Essentially this offense occurs when a person who has a duty of care to a child fails to take all reasonable steps to protect the child from harm, and the child dies or is harmed as a result of that neglect and the neglect warrants a criminal sanction ,” Bray said.
Police will also investigate possible criminal neglect offenses relating to five of Makai’s siblings, aged between seven and 16.
The two cases involve different families and are unrelated.
Premier announces independent review into government agencies
Premier Peter Malinauskas expressed shock about the death of the two children.
“One is shocking, two is desperately heartbreaking for every parent across the state,” he said.
“If there are people who fail to do their jobs and children are paying the price they will and held to account.”
Malinauskas announced a government review already investigating the death of Charlie will be expanded, and will now be “wholly independent.”
Former police commissioner Mal Hyde will head the review and examine the interaction of every government agency involved with the two children and the families.
“It needs to be led by someone everyone in South Australia has complete confidence to do such a thorough investigation,” Malinauskas said.
It will also examine child protection, including housing authorities, education and the police.
The review will be carried out simultaneously alongside the police investigations.
“What we need to do is make sure there is not a child out there in difficult circumstances vulnerable to losing their life through criminal neglect,” Malinauskas said.