Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Appeals rejected for abusive parents

The twin babies were found to have suffered multiple fractures and bruising from their parents abuse. Photo / File
The twin babies were found to have suffered multiple fractures and bruising from their parents abuse. Photo / File

The parents of twin baby boys who suffered horrific physical abuse weeks after their premature birth have had appeals against jail sentences for neglecting their babies rejected.

The abuse was discovered when the parents took their babies to hospital in April 2012. They feared one had meningitis.

Doctors discovered the baby had suffered 26 fractures -- 13 to his arms and legs, 11 to his ribs, one to his collarbone and a linear skull fracture, which had caused a brain injury. The rib fractures had caused swelling and fluid to build up, and the boy also had 13 bruises to his arms, legs, chest and nostril, and some of the bruises were several centimetres long.

Following the findings, the boy's twin brother was also examined and found to have suffered five fractures to his arms and legs, six fractures to his ribs and a bruise on his leg and arm.

The abuse is believed to have occurred when the babies, who were born four weeks' early, were aged between eight and 10 weeks old.

But police were unable to identify who inflicted the injuries.

The parents, who, along with their babies, have name suppression, were charged with neglecting the twins by failing to get medical assistance and treatment for them. Both pleaded guilty.

The babies' father was sentenced to four years and four months jail and their mother to three years and six months jail.

Both appealed their sentences, claiming the starting point of six years was excessive, but their appeals were rejected by justices Tony Randerson, Geoffrey Venning and David Collins in a Court of Appeal decision released today.

The defence counsel for the father of the babies' told the Court of Appeal the man's lesser role in the case of the children was not recognised, while the

mother's defence counsel said the sentencing judge "erred in giving weight to the long-term consequences for the victims [and] had failed to take into account that [the mother] had taken the children to the hospital".

The sentencing judge took into account the report of a paediatrician, who said while the rib, leg and arm fractures would heal without long-term injury, the baby who suffered a skull fracture could suffer ongoing ill-effects. The paediatrician also said both babies could also be more susceptible to impaired cognitive and academic functioning, as well as psychological and development problems, because of the neglect.

Justices Randerson, Venning and Collins said in their report today they were satisfied the starting point was not excessive.

The case involved two young babies, they suffered "moderately serious injuries" and their parents admitted to a "major departure from the standard of care expected of a reasonable person" when they failed to get immediate medical treatment for the babies.

"We agree with the [sentencing] judge that it must have been obvious from the nature of the children's injuries that their pain and suffering could not have gone unnoticed."

- NZ Herald

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