A mother accused of feeding her teenage autistic son only bread and soft drink before he allegedly starved to death has lashed out after being questioned about her charges.
Keti Jovanovska has been charged with the manslaughter of her son Joshua Djuric, 18, after he was found dead at the family home in Yagoona, in Sydney’s southwest, last week in an emaciated state.
Ms Jovanovska is accused of failing to provide food, medical care or medicine to her son when his health was declining.
The mother was confronted by reporters outside her home on Wednesday, where one asked if she was doing OK.
‘No,’ she replied as she quickly got into her car.
Keti Jovanovska has been charged with the manslaughter of her son Joshua Djuric, 18,
Ms Jovanovska, is accused of failing to provide food, medical care or medicine to her son when his health was declining
‘Has it been a hard time for you?’ a reporter asks.
‘Yeah, I’m not allowed to talk. I’m not allowed to talk,’ the mother responded.
The mother was seen returning to her home in Yagoona shortly before midday on Thursday with a bag filled with a few groceries, including a pack of strawberry-flavoured Extra gum.
‘I can’t say anything,’ she repeatedly told Daily Mail Australia. ‘I just want to be left alone.’
A police car cruised by the house on Thursday morning and two officers spoke briefly with Ms Jovanovska at her front door not long after she got home.
A neighbour said she’d been ‘scared’ of Joshua in the year before the Covid pandemic, due to his erratic behaviour, but said the Jovanovskas were a ‘lovely’ family.
‘Before Covid he had about 12 months of very bombastic behaviour. I was a bit scared of him,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
‘I wouldn’t knock on the door because you never knew what mood he’d be in.’
The mother told reporters she ‘wanted to be left alone’ after being quizzed about her charges on Thursday
A police car cruised by the house on Thursday morning and two officers spoke briefly with Ms Jovanovska at her front door not long after she got home
She said Ms Jovanovska, who is Macedonian, had moved into the house 24 years ago with her parents and brother.
‘They were a lovely, lovely family,’ she said.
Ms Jovanovska’s brother had married and moved to Melbourne, and she had moved out after marrying a man called Adam.
After giving birth to Joshua, Ms Jovanovska, who the neighbour knew as Kathy, moved back in with her husband and the boy.
‘She’s a lovely girl and her husband’s lovely too. I can honestly say they were a lovely family,’ the neighbour said.
Ms Jovanovska’s parents eventually went to live with their son and daughter-in-law and at some point her husband had also left, leaving the mother and son on their own.
‘He was a lovely, friendly boy in the beginning,’ the neighbour said.
Joshua had gone to the local primary school then Bass Hill High but found school difficult.
A boarded up window is seen at the front of the house while a blue mattress is seen leaning against a brick wall
Referring to the broken window at the front of the house, a neighbour said ‘you can see by the house he used to get a bit stressed’
Pictured is the dining room of the Jovanovska family home
‘His mother would have to pick him up because he was playing up or being bullied,’ the neighbour said.
‘He was a big boy who was a bit loud and rough.’
Referring to broken windows at the front of the family’s home, she said: ‘You can see by the house he used to get a bit stressed as he got older.
‘I used to see Kathy at the letter box and say, ”How’s Josh?” And she’d say, ”He’s good”.’
The neighbour said she had not seen seen Joshua for the past two-and-a-half years.
‘He could have gone out when I went out,’ she said.
‘If you don’t live in the house you just don’t know.
‘I just feel so sorry for him, what a sad life. I feel so sad for her.
‘I think she did her best. She’s just a lovely person.’
One neighbour said she not seen seen Joshua for the past two-and-a-half years (pictured is the Yagoona house)
Neighbours described Ms Jovanovska and her family as ‘lovely’. Pictured is the kitchen inside the family home
Another neighbour said she was sympathetic to Ms Jovanovska’s plight and wondered what support she had been given.
‘For me, It’s just a very sad state of affairs,’ she said.
‘I don’t know how someone could fall through the cracks like that. It just shouldn’t happen.
‘As far as I’m concerned, nobody’s in a position to judge that woman.’
The neighbour said it would have been hard enough raising a child as a single parent without him having a disability.
‘If you’re not getting respite or support how are you supposed to cope?’ she said.
‘The average person bringing up a child in this day and age has a difficult time so can you imagine this poor woman?
‘I think it’s important people show some compassion rather than crucifying her or sitting in judgement without trying to live her life or stand in her shoes.
‘Unless you are that person living that life no one’s truly going to know.
‘As a mother she now has to live with this and that alone is enough for her, together with what she’s been through.’
The neighbour said she was unaware of what help Ms Jovanovska had raising Joshua but there did not seem to be much support.
One neighbour was sympathetic to the mother’s plight and questioned if she’d been given any support raising her son
The neighbour called for understanding as Ms Jovanovska goes before the courts.
‘I don’t want her name thrown about as if she’s some sort of monster,’ she said.
‘She was a very kind woman.
‘She did the best she could with what she had.
‘I think in a situation like this it’s about compassion and sympathy. She’s lost her son. People need to understand that. Despite anything else, that was her child.’
The house has several boarded up windows and an old mattress left out the front.
Police will allege the 52-year-old woman only fed her son bread and soft drink, despite his deteriorating condition.
Ms Jovanovska sought help from neighbours after finding her son at around 10:30pm on Monday, September 26.
Neighbours called emergency services but Joshua was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police will allege the 52-year-old woman only fed her son bread and soft drink, despite his deteriorating condition
Police allege he died between 6pm and 10:40pm that night, as long as four hours before triple-0 was called, according to court documents tendered in her bail application.
Ms Jovanovska was questioned at Bankstown Police Station before being taken to hospital for assessment.
She was charged with his manslaughter the next morning and faced Bankstown Local Court.
Detectives are investigating whether Joshua had any physical or mental conditions that stopped him from being able to care for himself.
Ms Jovanovska is due to face court again on November 30 and remains on strict bail conditions.