Parents sentenced for leaving kids in van at casino

By Edward Gay

File photo / NZPA
File photo / NZPA

A mother who abandoned five children in a van in the SkyCity carpark wants to become a social worker, a court has been told.

The 29-year-old woman and her 39-year-old partner - who both have name suppression to protect their children - were sentenced in Auckland District Court today.

Judge Grant Fraser granted the woman a discharge without conviction after hearing arguments from the woman's lawyer Richard Slade.

Mr Slade had asked for the discharge because the consequences of the offending would be out of proportion to the offence.

He said the woman hoped to become a social worker and a conviction on her record could make that "difficult''.

Mr Slade said his client acknowledged there was a "serious lack of judgement'' but she she was under emotional stress at the time.

The man was convicted and discharged.

The couple were arrested after police found five children aged between five months and eight years locked in a van in the SkyCity carpark in February.

Not all the children were theirs.

The couple have both pleaded guilty to one charge of leaving a child under the age of 14 without adequate supervision.

It has previously been reported that surveillance footage shows the children were left for about 45 minutes before being found by a passing couple. The woman who found them said at the time the children were clearly distressed.

"I could see this little toddler up against the window screaming and banging,'' she told TVNZ.

She said she could see a little boy trying to calm a baby.

"He was looking at me [shaking his head], 'no, no, no', and he had a cellphone in his hand.''

Security guards worked with police to free them and they were put into the care of Child Youth and Family.

According to figures from the Department of Internal Affairs, the number of cases of children abandoned at Auckland's SkyCity Casino has almost tripled in two years.

There were 54 incidents of children being left unattended in 2011, compared with 46 in 2010 and just 19 the year before.

- NZ Herald

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