Monday, 13 August 2007


Child dialled 111 seeking help
By ESTHER HARWARD - Sunday Star Times | Sunday, 12 August 2007

Police will tomorrow arrest a man for allegedly using weapons to beat his two stepsons regularly over nine months, leaving them with bruises all over their upper body.

The Putaruru case is one of hundreds of active child abuse inquiries around the country which police say are stretching resources and causing other crimes to go uninvestigated.

Tokoroa district CIB head Detective Sergeant Kevin Verry said the man would be arrested on Monday and would face several charges.

The brothers, aged 13 and 14, and three younger siblings - who are not believed to have been abused - have been taken into CYF care.

One of the children dialled 111 to get help after schoolfriends urged him to dob the man in.

Verry says it was one of the longest periods of unreported assault on a child he had seen.

He says out of five staff, two work full-time on child abuse cases and three staff take overflow.

"I'm pretty appalled that it's still continuing. Because of this, other investigations like burglaries have been put on the back burner because this takes priority."

Auckland City District's child abuse team head Detective Sergeant Phil Kirkham says his team has "more work than we can actively deal with".

Kirkham says it is common for families of children with non-accidental injuries to draw out or block inquiries by stonewalling or lying, meaning cases could take weeks or months to come to court.

In Waitakere District Court last week a couple was charged with wilful neglect in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering to an 18-month-old boy.

The toddler is recovering from a broken leg and arm in Starship Childrens Hospital after being admitted in July. Doctors said his injuries could have been inflicted weeks before medical attention was sought.

He would have been in excruciating pain when social workers referred him to doctors. The toddler and his siblings were the subject of a care and protection programme.

Those charged with neglect were his 30-year-old biological mother and her 27-year-old partner. The Samoan couple has a "history" with police and social welfare, and blame the boy's older siblings for the injuries.

At birth the boy was adopted by his mother's sister. He was in her care last year when he was taken to hospital with a broken arm.

The adoptive mother, her partner, the biological mother and her partner were living together in a Ranui Housing New Zealand home at the time. All denied inflicting the child's injuries and lashed out at authorities for taking the children into care.

The adults were told to attend anger management and parenting courses run by West Auckland community organisation The Project, but were defiant.

Programme facilitator Taliaoa Filipo Tipoai said: "They were those people who do it for the sake of doing it. They always ask, `When are we finishing? How many more classes must we do?'

"They were really angry when the department took their children. They were really angry."

He said both couples believed no one had the right to tell them how to parent their children.

The family arrived from Samoa about three years ago.

At last week's court appearance the lawyer acting for the biological mother and her partner asked for name suppression so friends and the church community could be told of the charges.

Josefina Fuimaono-Sapolu argued it would come as a shock to the community.

Tipoai said: "That sounds like a cop-out. If it's not a shock to them to abuse the child why do they think it will be a shock to the community who they are?"

The pair's interim name suppression expires tomorrow afternoon.

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