Here, Elle Murphy, 30, tells the story in her own words.
P￼ulling into the driveway, I turned to my three boys. ‘This is our new home!’ I beamed, admiring the four-bedroom rental.
My husband Danny, 32, had been living in Sydney for a few months after starting his new job, and the kids and I had just made the big trip from Orange.
Zane, 10, Blayze, six, and Lincoln, three, were so excited for their new bedrooms and I was glad we were all together again.
Moving boxes into the house, I noticed some broken glass scattered around the back. ‘Watch out for that!’ I warned the boys, clearing it up. But apart from
that, everything else seemed just perfect.
A few weeks later though, Lincoln began feeling sick, as if he had the flu. His asthma was playing up as well and he had trouble breathing, so we put him
on preventer medication.
Over the next few days, his wheezy coughs grew worse, but I put it down to the stress of moving. ‘It’s been so hectic and he’s only little,’ I told Danny, trying not to worry.
Soon after, Blayze’s asthma got severe too. I realised something was really wrong when he woke up with some strange allergic reactions.
‘Mum, my eyes are so itchy and red,’ he complained. They seemed to be prickling with tears and when I inspected them closer, they were abnormally bloodshot.
Frightened, I noticed all three of them had angry red rashes all over their skin too. ‘It’s most likely allergies,’ a doctor said. ‘The symptoms will fade.’
But the boys seemed to get sicker.
Then one day, I was loading the washing machine, when I saw condensation running down the walls in the laundry. The water was a strange yellowish colour. Looks like someone was smoking in here, I thought.
That night, I tossed and turned in bed. ‘Danny, I have such a headache and I can’t get to sleep,’ I said. ‘You too?’ he asked. ‘I haven’t slept well for days.’
That weekend, Danny noticed something sharp glittering in the gravel outside. ‘Elle, come look at this!’ he called out.
Bending down, I let out a gasp. It was a syringe!
Suddenly, an awful feeling dawned on me. If drugs had been used in the house, it could be what was making us ill. ‘We need to get the house tested!’ I told him, shocked.
Going online, I bought some DIY drug test kits. After Danny and I had swabbed the place, we were disgusted to find our home tested positive for methamphetamine.
To be sure, I booked Meth Screen Ltd, who came and tested the property for any traces of drugs. The next day, the manager Ryan called with some sinister news. ‘It’s not good,’ he said
It turned out a previous tenant may have been cooking meth in the house.
The place was riddled with the drug and contained 7.5 times the maximum level of safe residue. It was in the walls, carpets and curtains. The landlord had no idea. I was absolutely horrified. Our home was a meth lab!
‘What have we done?’ I cried to Danny. ‘Our children have been exposed to meth!’
We packed a bag each and left the house immediately, heading to Danny’s parents’ place in Kiama.
Confused by the abrupt move, I gently explained to Zane, Blayze and Lincoln why we had to leave. ‘There’s something in the house that’s making us sick, so we have to go away,’ I told them.
A week after moving out, the headaches and rashes started to fade and the boys felt so much better.
Thinking back, I realised why my poor baby boy suffered the worst symptoms.
His dummy would have been dropped on the floor many times, which meant he ingested the meth residue. I was sickened at the thought and rushed to the doctors to get his hair tested.
Sure enough, the result came back showing traces of meth and cocaine. ‘At least we’re out now,’ Danny soothed.
A month later we found a great place only 15 minutes away from the old house. This time, we had it tested before moving in. We had to throw out all our bedding and linen though, as well as the dryer, lounge, microwave and toaster.
It cost us thousands to furnish the place after discarding the meth-infested items, and our real estate agent told us we wouldn’t be compensated.
For the next few weeks, the boys had to sleep on air mattresses while Danny and I slept on the couch. Thankfully, the kids seemed to love it!
‘It feels like camping,’ they cheered.
I’m just so glad we left that horror drug den after only a few months. I shudder to think how sick we would have become if we stayed any longer.
I encourage people to have their homes tested before moving into a new place. There should be warnings to young families so people are aware of the risks. We’re lucky we found out when we did.
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