Couple jailed for abusing adopted daughter

File photo / Thinkstock
File photo / Thinkstock

A Wairarapa couple have been sent to prison for more than a year and a half after being found guilty of ill-treating and neglecting their adopted daughter.

Last month Russell and Leonie Kennedy were each found guilty of two historical charges relating to a girl aged under 16 in Greytown between 1983 and 1987.

Today, they were each sentenced to one year and eight months' imprisonment.

At the trial, the Wellington District Court was told that when the woman, now 31, was a little girl the couple hit her with jug cords and hockey sticks, starved her and sent her to school with no food.

Crown prosecutor Ian Murray said Russell Kennedy once set one of the family dogs onto her.

Russell was also accused of holding her under water while bathing her and throwing her into the local pool.

Mr Murray said there was an ongoing and accumulating pattern of abuse over years.

Peter Stevens, appearing for Russell Kennedy said it was an "unfortunate case'' and by the age of three, the girl had already been through six or seven other carers.

"That's sad and I think you will probably have a lot of sympathy for her.''

The Kennedys offered her a home when they were struggling financially, he said.

He said the woman's adoption was proof of their care for her. They could have kept her on as a foster child and continued to be given money by social services.

"They weren't in it for the money.''

Louise Elder, appearing for Leonie Kennedy, said the complainant saw herself as "the girl who wasn't there''.

"And that's completely unsurprising when you consider her early life before she was adopted by the Kennedys.''

She said the complainant may have been abused by two or three early carers "all by the time she was three and a half''.

Because of the time that had passed, many relevant people were no longer around.

"What you've got is a lot of notes, recollections and impressions,'' she said.

"It's her truth, it's her reality and nothing in this courtroom is ever going to change that, but what I'm suggesting is it's not the real truth.''

- APNZ

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