Robin Brooke's baby anguish

By Anna Leask

Robin Brooke on his way to visit baby Rymer yesterday, who is seriously ill in hospital. Photo / Janna Dixon
Robin Brooke on his way to visit baby Rymer yesterday, who is seriously ill in hospital. Photo / Janna Dixon

Under seige former All Black Robin Brooke is under further strain with his baby daughter fighting for her life in hospital.

As Brooke's lawyers started settlement talks with the family of the 15-year-old girl he allegedly groped at a resort in Fiji, the Herald on Sunday can reveal that Brooke's four-month-old daughter Rymer has been in the children's ward at Tauranga Hospital for more than a week with serious breathing problems.

The hospital confirmed yesterday that Rymer was a patient but could not give further details.

Brooke and his wife Hayley have been at their daughter's side the entire time she has been in the ward, according to a close family friend.

"Rob and Hayley have been taking turns sitting with her, doing the nightly vigil. It's a pretty tough time for them."

The friend would not give any further details about Rymer's condition other than to confirm it was serious.

On Friday Brooke, who owns a New World supermarket near his home in Tauranga, took his three older children to the hospital. About half an hour later Hayley returned to their car with the children and left.

Hayley, wearing dark sunglasses, returned to the hospital on her own yesterday and met another woman at the main entrance.

Outside the hospital yesterday Brooke would not comment but did utter a softly spoken "thanks" as he walked back inside.

It is understood the Brooke family returned to New Zealand on January 8 - the day news broke that police were investigating allegations he had sexually harassed a 15-year-old Auckland girl and assaulted 17-year-old Jordan Whittaker at the Fiji Resort & Spa Managed by Hilton on Denarau Island in the early hours of New Years' Eve.

It's alleged the girl was poolside at about 2am when Brooke grabbed her backside on two occasions. Whittaker claims that when he tried to intervene, Brooke threw him on a sun lounger, grabbed him by the throat and threatened him.

Police are still investigating and Brooke has not been charged.

It is understood Brooke and several friends, including former All Black teammate Craig Innes were drinking at the Sheraton Villas on Denarau Island. Brooke ended up in a woman's strapless bra and g-string after a series of dares.

Innes, who is married to New Zealand's Next Top Model host Sara Tetro, would not talk about the hours leading up to the alleged assault.

Tetro's car was seen at Brooke's home several times last week.

Whittaker's lawyer Peter Lowing has filed a civil suit against Brooke, seeking $200,000 in damages.

Court documents filed in Fiji's High Court and emailed to Brooke allege that he "placed his hand or hands on the buttocks and groin area from behind [the 15-year-old] and his hand remained in position for about three seconds".

The girl's parents were invited to join Whittaker's private action, but have decided on a different approach after a meeting with their lawyer Peter Tomlinson.

The girl's mother hoped a private settlement would be reached within a week. She said they were not asking for money but wanted an apology.

"We never wanted money and we don't intend to ask for money ... we just want what we wanted at the beginning - an apology. But we still support Jordan. We are still 100 per cent behind him, whatever he wants to do. We are still very grateful to him."

The girl's mother was not aware Brooke's daughter was in hospital.

"I am very sorry to hear about his baby," she said.

Whittaker's father Brett said he did not want to "destroy" Brooke's life. He simply wanted an an answer.

"We have not heard from him. We wrote to his lawyer again [on Friday] and basically said: Did Robin Brooke do it or not? It's a yes or no question," he said.

"His silence speaks volumes. But I am extending him an olive branch. I want it to get through to him that if he would come forward and talk to our families we'd be quite happy for this to go away. I don't want his blood. I want him to say to a 15-year-old girl 'I'm sorry for what I've done'.

"I am doing this for Jordan, for [the 15-year-old], to show them that minors do have a voice. But if Brooke won't talk to us it makes it very hard."

Brooke's lawyer Rachael Adams has advised Brooke not to speak to media or the teenagers' families while the police investigation and legal proceedings are ongoing.

But in a press release sent to Lowing's office she said Brooke was "naturally distressed" by the situation and would "strongly contest" the civil suit.

- Herald on Sunday

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