Dita De Boni 's Opinion

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

A half year of hell in New Zealand

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Toys outside the Rotorua house where Trent Matthews died. Photo / Alan Gibson
Toys outside the Rotorua house where Trent Matthews died. Photo / Alan Gibson

If anyone can find any reason why many of the people in the list below shouldn't face the death penalty, much less be allowed to breed or "parent", please let me know. Because I can't find one.

AUGUST 20, 2009

A three-year-old Palmerston North girl dies from what's thought to be extensive, non-accidental head injuries at the local hospital. She was named today as Kash McKinnon.

AUGUST 11

A 17-month-old toddler from Kamo, Tinisha Walker, is flown to Starship with serious injuries, where she remains in a critical condition. Police were tight-lipped about who assaulted Tanisha but they were "talking with her family". Subsequently, a 39-year-old man is due to appear in the Whangarei District Court next month charged with assaulting her. He has name suppression.

AUGUST 8

A two-year-old Kaitaia girl, Jacqui Peterson-Davis, dies in Starship Hospital. Police confirm there are "bruises on her body" and head injuries but won't elaborate. A woman (name suppressed) in her early 30s is charged with assault, and more charges may follow. The family of the woman, showing her full support, admit they are "struggling to come to terms" with the incident. It is then revealed that the little girl had been the subject of at least one CYFS notification during the months leading up to her death.

AUGUST 2

A four-month-old boy from Papakura is taken to Starship with "non-accidental brain injuries" and remains in a critical condition. His teenage parents are cooperating with police but the family home becomes the scene of further police investigation of other criminal activity. Neighbours describe the house as a "nonstop party house".

JULY 27

Foster carer Karen Alice Robinson stands trial in the Rotorua High Court for the murder of 14-month-old Melissa Sale in 2005. Melissa died of a traumatic brain injury and had extensive bruising on her face and at the back of her eyes. Robinson was convicted of manslaughter this month and will be sentenced in October.

JULY 22

Motueka mother Cassandra Albert, who gave her four-month-old baby severe brain damage by shaking him, is sentenced to three years and nine months. Albert and her partner Newton Samuel Moki were jointly charged with failing to provide the necessities of life after failing to get the boy help for nine hours during which he had seizures and profuse sweating.

JULY 15

Rotorua man Frank James Brown, who punched his 14-month-old at least twice in the head, is sentenced to three years and nine months in prison. The injuries put the child in hospital for three nights.

JUNE 29

A depositions hearing reveals that Kerikeri beneficiary Kyle Skerten is to stand trial for the murder of his 16-month-old stepson Riley Justin Osborne. Riley died after four days at Starship Hospital from his injuries - a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and eye injuries - so serious that a pediatrician told the court that he'd last seen the like when a child fell 11m on to bare concrete. Skerten will stand trial in September.

JUNE 15

The mother of a wheelchair-bound (then) eight-year-old appears in the Manukau District Court on assault charges. Some of the injuries inflicted on this boy include being beaten, burned with cigarettes, and starved. Two children still live with her. From the Herald, "[his] school found bruising and swelling around his genital area and he had blood-stained urine. Fears grew when the previously overweight boy lost around 25kg in a short period". [His] teacher claims the boy told her he sometimes was not given dinner or breakfast and was arriving at school teary, tired "and even lifting a pencil took great effort".

JUNE 5

One-year-old Trent Matthews is found dead in his family lounge in Rotorua. He had been taken from his mother soon after his birth and placed in the care of his uncle Joe Matthews. Matthews' partner Sasha Pene is charged with assaulting the boy.

MAY 14

Mary Joachim, 28, is sentenced to three years in the Auckland District Court for failing to provide the necessities of life to her son, seven-year-old Duwayne Pailegutu, who died in 2008 eight days after being savagely beaten by his step father Johnny Joachim. Duwayne was given a beating that left him partly paralysed and semi-conscious because he'd left a jumper at school. For several days afterwards he was unable to move and wore nappies because he was unable to get to the toilet he was in so much pain. According to the Herald report, "In an attempt to "shock" Duwayne into movement, Joachim dipped his paralysed foot into boiling water, leaving the largest of four scald wounds on his right leg. When he became frustrated that Duwayne could not move, Joachim threw him against a wall. And for the six weeks before his death on July 2 last year, Duwayne had been living with three broken ribs." His mother kept her son from school and misled the school about her son's whereabouts before he died in agony.

MARCH 7

JayRhis Ian te Koha Lock-Tata dies in Auckland's Starship Hospital after suffering severe head injuries - either having been beaten or having had his head knocked against something. His father Adam Christopher Lock, 22, is charged with his murder.

FEBRUARY 17

Three-year-old Cherishsiliala Tahuri-Wright, known as Cherish, is found injured and struggling to breathe by paramedics at her Marton home and later died at Palmerston North Hospital. A 56-year-old woman has been charged with her murder.

- Dita De Boni

Pictured above: Toys outside a Rotorua house where Trent Matthews died. Photo / Alan Gibson

Note: Debate on this issue is now closed.

Dita De Boni

Business columnist, with a political twist, for NZ Herald

Dita De Boni is a columnist, commentator and TV producer/journalist. She first wrote columns for the NZ Herald in 1995, moving to daily business news in 1999 for four years, and then to TVNZ in Business, News and Current Affairs. After tiring of the parenting/blogging beat for the Herald Online she moved back to her first love, business (with a politics chaser), writing a column for Friday Business since 2012.

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