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O'Farrell quiet on Ebony house pledge

IT WAS meant to be their retirement nest egg but the couple who own the house where a seven-year-old girl was starved to death by her parents say all they have is a broken promise from the government.

IT WAS meant to be their retirement nest egg but the couple who own the house where a seven-year-old girl was starved to death by her parents say all they have is a broken promise from the government.

When in opposition, Barry O'Farrell urged the NSW government to buy the Hawks Nest house from Chris and Deborah Alexiou, demolish it and create a park in memory of Ebony, as she is known.

But seven months after taking office, the Alexious say the Premier has refused to return their calls.

"[Mr O'Farrell] went on TV twice [to argue our case] but now he has got in he doesn't want to know us," Mr Alexiou, 47, said.

The couple is suing the government for compensation, with the case set to return to the Supreme Court next month.

They have been trying to sell the house since the 2007 death but potential buyers have been scared off by the grisly events that took place there, Mr Alexiou said. Under NSW law, they are required to tell potential buyers about its history.

"We have done absolutely nothing wrong but we are the victims - not as much as Ebony, but it is getting worse and worse for us," Mr Alexiou said.

The ordeal has contributed to Mrs Alexiou suffering from stress-related illness and their daughter is about to sit the Higher School Certificate. "I just want things sorted so we can get on with our lives," Mr Alexiou said.

The family rented the house to Ebony's family through the Department of Housing after they received positive reports about their rental history. But during the parents' trial it emerged they had left another Department of Housing property in Matraville putrid and infested with cockroaches.

After the child's body was found in November 2007, Mr Alexiou had to clean the house himself, saying the smell was "as though rotting animals had been in it".

Ebony's mother was found guilty of murder and her father guilty of manslaughter. They are serving jail sentences of life and 16 years respectively.

A spokesman for Mr O'Farrell said he sympathised with the Alexious and wanted to work with them to reach a satisfactory outcome. But he said it would be inappropriate to intervene in the case while it is before the courts.

"I am still committed to ensuring my government sits down and talks with the family when the court case is determined," Mr O'Farrell said in a statement.

tbarlass@sunherald.com.au


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