Casino van kids' parents admit guilt

File photo / Duncan Brown
File photo / Duncan Brown

The parents accused of leaving five children in a locked van while they gambled at Auckland's SkyCity casino have pleaded guilty.

The 39-year-old man and 29-year-old woman retained interim name suppression during a hearing at Auckland District Court this morning.

Each pleaded guilty to one charge of leaving a child under the age of 14 without adequate supervision.

They were remanded on bail to appear for a pre-sentence hearing in September.

The man's counsel, public defender Catherine Lintott, said he was seeking help for a gambling problem with the Salvation Army.

Surveillance footage shows the children, including a 5-month-old baby, were left in the van in the casino complex car park for about 45 minutes from 11am on Sunday, February 26.

Security guards worked with police to free them after a couple found them trapped and crying.

The Green Party has said the case highlighted the impact of problem gambling, which would escalate ahead of its plan to let SkyCity operate more pokie machines.

Prime Minister John Key defended the SkyCity development in the wake of the incident, saying it could equally have happened at an environment like a supermarket.

- APNZ

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