The mother of a woman whose partner and five children died in a house fire claims her daughter had asked her landlord to fix the property’s smoke alarms before the tragedy occurred.
Wayne Godinet, 34, died along with his twins Kyza and Koa, four, son Nicky, three, and stepsons Zack, 11, and Harry, 10, in an inferno at their Russell Island home . southeast of Brisbane in August last year.
The children’s mother, Samantha Stephenson, 28, and her sister were able to escape the fire.
On Thursday, the family’s owner, Donna Rose Beadel, 61, was served with a notice to appear in Cleveland Magistrates Court on March 26 over alleged lack of smoke alarms at the property.
Beadel, who lives in Tweed Heads, was not present when the fire occurred and has not been charged with any crime in relation to the deaths of Mr Godinet and his children.
There is no suggestion he committed any other offences.
Stephenson’s mother, Rebecca, the children’s grandmother, claimed her daughter asked Beadel to fix the smoke alarms a week before the fire.
Father Wayne Godinet, 34, and his five children (pictured) died after being trapped in a deadly fire on Queensland’s Russell Island.
The fire was so intense that firefighters were only able to collect the remains of the house late Sunday afternoon after fighting it since 6:18 a.m.
“The week before it happened, Sam texted his landlady and asked her to update the smoke alarms,” Ms. Stephenson told the mail.
‘My partner and I moved in with Sam, Wayne and the kids in January and we moved in a few weeks before it happened; In those months I know of three times that Sam had asked for the smoke alarms to be fixed.
“It was the first thing you noticed when you walked into the house, a smoke alarm hanging from the ceiling and then a mark from one in the kitchen that had been painted.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said landlords are responsible for installing smoke alarms in rental properties in Queensland.
“Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago, as well as any smoke alarms that do not work when tested, should be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786-2014,” according to QFES.
‘Within 30 days before the start of the tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the landlord/landlord must test and clear each smoke alarm in the dwelling.
“During a tenancy in a domestic dwelling, the tenant must test and clean each smoke alarm in the dwelling at least once every 12 months.”
A homeowner who fails to install a smoke alarm faces a maximum fine of $800.
Stephenson said he couldn’t believe the size of the fine.
“Considering that Sam was paying $460 a week in rent, fifteen days living there would have covered this fine,” he said.
The children’s mother, Samantha Stephenson, 28 (on the right with Mr Godinet)
Roses and gerberas were left leaning on a piece of charred masonry at the site of the tragedy.
She said her daughter Samantha is still traumatized after the horrific fire.
“She’s not feeling well right now and she’s not coping, which I guess is to be expected when you’ve experienced something like this,” he said.
The fire was so intense that it burned the house to the ground and destroyed two other adjoining properties.
Godinet returned to the burning building in an attempt to rescue the children, but died inside when the second floor collapsed.
Neighbors recalled seeing Ms Stephenson running outside shouting “my children, my children” as her partner ran back into the inferno to rescue the five children sleeping upstairs.
Ms Beadel was seen at her Terranora property on Wednesday and a neighbor said she “couldn’t believe” what had happened.
‘Jesus Christ. That’s hectic,’ he said.
‘I see Donna all the time and say good morning and whatever. Five children, that’s terrible.
A heartbroken Ms Stephenson previously urged all parents to “check their smoke alarms and hold their babies”.
One of his sisters went to the scene shortly after the fire to place three roses and three gerberas against a piece of charred masonry in memory of the victims.
Dozens of Godinet’s relatives traveled from New Zealand to pay tribute to the victims with a powerful Haka.
“Detectives continue to investigate the fire and a final report is expected to be submitted to the coroner in the near future,” a Queensland Police spokesperson said.
A woman, believed to be Mr Godinet’s mother, sprays water at the scene as his father, Jacob Cope, looks on crying shortly after the fire in November 2023.
Mourners touched foreheads in a traditional Maori greeting (pictured) in November 2023.