A Tokoroa couple have been convicted of abusing two children over a number of years, one of whom was ruled too fragile to testify in court.
Stanley Williard Hamon, 46, and Elizabeth Tanya Matangi, 33, were yesterday found guilty in the Rotorua District Court of 10 counts between them, including assault on a child under 14, assault with a weapon, threatening to kill and wilful ill-treatment.
The offending happened between the early 2000s and 2011 in Tokoroa, Rotorua, Auckland, Putaruru and elsewhere in New Zealand.
Matangi pleaded guilty at the start of the trial on Monday to two counts of wilful ill-treatment, one of a boy and one of a girl.
Yesterday morning, Judge Chris McGuire told the jury he had discharged two charges against Hamon in relation to the girl, as there was no evidence to support them. After the verdicts were announced yesterday afternoon, Judge McGuire explained to the jury why the female complainant, originally listed as a witness, had not given evidence.
He said she had seen Matangi outside court on Monday and saw members of Hamon's family on Tuesday, leaving her distraught.
Judge McGuire said a "trial within a trial" was held in the jury's absence on Tuesday to determine whether she was able to testify, with evidence given by the girl's psychologist.
"She was in an extremely fragile state," the judge said.
"I have never done this before in my 15 years on the bench.
"I made an order she not give evidence because of the potential risk to her in terms of self-harm," he said.
In his closing address, Rotorua Crown prosecutor Chris Macklin said the key issue came down to whether the jury believed the evidence given by Crown witnesses, in particular the male complainant. He submitted the witnesses were credible, although Hamon's lawyer Katherine Ewen and Andy Schulze, representing Matangi, disputed this and claimed there were inconsistencies in the boy's evidence.
Hamon's offences included threatening to kill the boy with a gun and repeatedly whipping him with a brown leather belt.
In her closing, Mrs Ewen said Hamon had never owned a gun or a belt of that description and a police search of his house had failed to find either.
As part of what the Crown called "systematic abuse" Matangi hit the boy around the head with a pot, metal spatula and high heel, burnt him with a hot pot and whipped him with a belt 120 times. The girl also suffered repeated assaults, emotional degradation and threats.
The pair will be sentenced on March 14. Matangi will also be sentenced on two abduction counts to which she has previously pleaded guilty.