'We fear for your lives' - Mum's plea for girls turning to crime

By Carolyne Meng-Yee

Eden Nathan, just 16, died in a stolen car being chased by police. Six months after the fatal crash, her mother speaks to Carolyne Meng-Yee with a warning for teen girls following the same dangerous path.

Elizabeth Harrison is struggling with the senseless loss of her daughter.

There are some days she doesn't want to go on. The anguish of not seeing Eden - her "naughty girl with the beautiful face" - cuts deep and overwhelms her with sadness.

Elizabeth's nightmare began when she was woken up in the early hours of January 24 and told there had been a car crash nearby.

Eden Nathan, just 16, was a passenger in the stolen car fleeing police in a high-speed chase.

Eden's mother Elizabeth holds her 5-month-old granddaughter, also Eden. Picture / Mike Scott
Eden's mother Elizabeth holds her 5-month-old granddaughter, also Eden. Picture / Mike Scott

For four minutes, police pursued the car through the suburban streets of Papatoetoe and Mangere until the vehicle spun out of control and crashed into a fence not far from Eden's home. The driver was Kara Kauri, just 15, Eden's boyfriend's sister. She remains in a coma. Eden Nathan died instantly.

Elizabeth said her daughter, born and bred in Mangere, was a popular and talented teenager, intelligent and academically gifted.

But Eden was living a double life; a model school pupil by day, petty criminal by night.

She joined the PBG - short for Pretty But Gangster. As the name suggests, Pretty but Gangster are a street gang of teenage girls whose physical attractiveness masks a brutal streak.

"When I first heard the name I thought it was appropriate for the girls," says Elizabeth. "I'm not going to deny it, these girls are very beautiful and they are tough."

Elizabeth was right to be worried about Eden being led astray.

She started wagging school to hang out with her mates at Mangere Town Centre, so her good grades began to slip.

Eventually she was suspended from Mangere College and her path to self-destruction started to spiral.

"They were smoking, terrorising the local shopkeepers, beating up people and stealing cars. Menaces of society," says Elizabeth.

A mother of four and a kitchen hand at a local restaurant, she felt powerless to stop her daughter.

Eden Nathan, the "naughty girl with the beautiful face".
Eden Nathan, the "naughty girl with the beautiful face".

"[Her father and I] always taught her right from wrong but nothing stopped her. She got into stealing cars with her friends. That was her thing and that started her downhill spiral going to court.

"As much as we tried to stop her, there was nothing we could do. She was constantly brought home by the police when she started mixing with that group."

Although PBG prefer to stay under the radar, members - like so many millennials - share their lives on social media. Their Facebook pages are full of gangster poses, sex, drugs and expletives.

Inspector Dave Glossop, of Counties Manukau police district, said girl gangs were a relatively new phenomenon, and had started as girlfriends of street gangsters banding together in cliques.

Girls as young as 12 are committing crimes in a trend described by Glossop as "bad-ass offending" by females that had never existed before.

"The pack mentality of robbing dairies, they are normally things that you associate with groups of men," Glossop said. "Also the severity of assaults. People don't think women normally punch people in the head or kick them into the ground. We are seeing real violence by females."

The investigation of the fatal car crash is being wrapped up - Glossop says driver error was to blame - and no decision on criminal charges has been made. He said police had not been able to interview the driver because of her injuries. The actions of the police during the pursuit are also being investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The hours leading up to Eden's death that night are still vivid in her mind. Her daughter hadn't been home for several days but sent her mum a text message. "Things are going to change. I am sorry for all the trouble I have caused you," Elizabeth said Eden wrote.

She never showed up. A few hours later, there was the knock on the door.

Six months after her daughter's death, Elizabeth doesn't blame anyone over the death and feels compassion for the mother of Kara, the driver.

"They made the biggest mistake of their lives that night. But there's nothing I can do to bring her back and hating this girl isn't going to change it," she says.

"Of course, for us it's a loss forever; this can't be undone."

She also has a message for teens like Eden.

"When you kids are out there doing the things you do, your families are at home wondering ... fearing for your lives. Your families love you. We will miss you if you continue to do things that harm you."

- NZ Herald

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