Police pay ambulance bill

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Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
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April Bennell and her son Peter near the place she lost her footing and fell while carrying Peter.
Camera IconApril Bennell and her son Peter near the place she lost her footing and fell while carrying Peter. Credit: Geoff Vivian/Picture: Geoff Vivian, Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

Two young parents have been hit with a $986 bill they could not afford to pay, for an ambulance they did not call this month.

They say it arrived after a false child abuse report.

After a visit to Geraldton Police Station and a phone call from The Geraldton Guardian, police have agreed to pay it.

April Bennell and Andrew Ghannage said they had just returned to their two small children, who had spent the afternoon with Mr Ghanage’s sister Irene in Shenton Street near Geraldton Health Campus on December 21.

As they took a short walk together Ms Bennell, who was holding her 18-month-old son Peter, lost her footing and fell.

She said Peter fell on top of her and cried, but was unhurt.

Soon afterwards she collected her three-year-old daughter Nadia and began to walk back to her Rangeway home while breastfeeding her son.

Ms Bennell said two police vehicles and an ambulance suddenly arrived.

“They said, ‘We want to take your kid’,” she said.

“They grabbed him off me, and they took my little three-year-old who had wrapped her arms around my legs.”

The children’s father and aunt rushed to help.

Mr Ghannage was allowed to ride to Geraldton Hospital with the children, but without their mother.

“She was distressed, she walked to the hospital and they wouldn’t even let her see her own children,” Ms Ghannage continued.

The children were found to be uninjured, and Mr Ghannage said he was taken home with the children without being able to communicate with their mother.

Mid West-Gascoyne police Supt Roger Beer said police were concerned regarding the safety of two young children in the care of Ms Bennell, and called an ambulance.

“I can confirm that WA Police did call the ambulance and will take responsibility for the invoice forwarded to Ms Bennell,” he said.

Ms Bennell, who has only lived in Geraldton for a few years, said she had three visits from Department of Communities staff in the two weeks following the incident.

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