Nia Glassie's mum denied parole

Lisa Kuka. Photo / Stephen Parker
Lisa Kuka. Photo / Stephen Parker

The mother of tortured Rotorua three-year-old Nia Glassie has been denied parole.

Lisa Michelle Kuka, 40, started her nine-year sentence for the manslaughter of her daughter on February 4, 2009.

Kuka's then partner, 19-year-old Wiremu Curtis, and his brother Michael, 22, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the little girl's murder.

The Parole Board today said Kuka remained an undue risk to the safety of the community.

Nia Glassie died on August 3, 2007, from head injuries after being repeatedly kicked.

She had been subjected to on-going abuse, usually when her mother was out at work, including being put in a clothes dryer, hung on a clothesline and spun around, used in wrestling moves, having objects thrown at her, and being subjected to cold baths.

Kuka did not take baby Nia to hospital, and was found guilty of manslaughter on the basis she failed in her duties as a parent protect her and provide care.

She appeared before the Parole Board on Thursday.

In its decision, released today, the board said it had taken Kuka a long time to come to terms with her responsibility for the death of her daughter.

The board said Kuka had received psychological counselling and had "started to come to terms with her role in this persistent and violent abuse, and ultimate death of Nia Glassie".

Kuka was previously denied parole at her first appearance before the board in October 2011.

Parole Board panel convenor Judge Carolyn Henwood said Kuka had been a compliant prisoner in the five years she had been in custody.

She had agreed to take part in the Kowhiritanga Programme, which is a group-based programme for people who offend against children.

Judge Henwood said the programme would build upon the counselling Kuka had undertaken, but noted she had not completed a previous programme.

"She did leave an earlier programme due to being upset relating to a television programme that had been viewed on air and brought up, in the programme, in front of the other participants. She took exception to that.

"Nevertheless she has otherwise been trying hard in prison to confront her offending and look for a brighter future."

Kuka planned to take part in a reintegration programme and hoped to eventually move to a self-care unit, undertake a release to work programme, and gradually reintegrate herself into the community.

"She has been thinking of these matters and hopes to obtain release to work as soon as she is able," Judge Henwood said.

Kuka will next appear before the board in a year, by which time she would have completed the Kowhiritanga Programme.

The board asked for a psychological report before its next hearing.

Nia was the youngest of Lisa Kuka's six children before Kuka got together with Wiremu Curtis when she was 34-years-old and he was 16.

Nia's death appalled the nation and prompted calls for more to be done to combat child abuse.

- APNZ

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