THE memory of a mother’s desperate screams for help and the image of her toddler horrifically burnt will never leave Doubleview resident Daniel McMillan.
It was the hysterical screams from the mother-of-three saying her children were being injured that caused Mr McMillan and fellow neighbours to take action.
The actions Mr McMillan took on that fateful morning three years ago were recognised this week as he was awarded with an Australian Bravery Medal.
In the early hours of August 29, 2015, the 36-year-old grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran into the home as off-duty police officer Stephanie Bochorsky carried the severely burnt girl out.
The three-year-old, who had been celebrating her upcoming fourth birthday with family that day, was doused in petrol and set alight by her father Edward John Herbert.
He had also poured petrol on his seven-year-old daughter, who has autism.
Mr McMillan said his female flat mate got the seven-year-old and her brother, “who were soaked in fuel”, out of the house where she “washed all the fuel off them and changed their clothes and calmed them down”.
Ms Bochorsky had taken the toddler to her house where she placed her in the bath.
“Their mother was in hysterics,” he said.
Inside the home, Mr McMillan was confronted by the smell of burning flesh and Herbert, who was in a drug and alcohol fuelled rage, naked and armed with a 20cm knife.
Herbert lunged at Mr McMillan and tried to stab him.
He used the fire extinguisher to deflect the attempted blow and smashed it over Herbert’s head.
It wasn’t until Mr McMillan wrestled Herbert to the ground and managed to get the knife from him and choke him with his own arm that the fight ended.
Herbert was left unconscious and the three children were taken to hospital.
The father-of-three was last year sentenced to 17 years jail after almost two years for committing what Supreme Court Justice Lindy Jenkins described as “horrendous” crimes.
Mr McMillan said he remembered that morning as if it were yesterday and that he hated talking about.
“Kids don’t f**cking deserve that,” he said.
“Nobody gives a f**ck about anyone these days, it’s every man for himself but I did what I thought was right at the time.
“By the time I got there my neighbours had done other things to help, including my flatmate, so they should be recognised too.”