Adoptive dad denies he was cruel

A woman who says she was forced to steal and forage in rubbish bins for food as a child while her sisters were fed normally was "just one of the kids", her adoptive father says.

Wairarapa couple Russell and Leonie Kennedy are facing historical charges of cruelly ill-treating and wilfully neglecting a girl under the age of 16 between 1983 and 1987 in Greytown.

Both have denied the abuse of their adopted daughter, who is now 31.

A jury in Wellington District Court was shown video of a police interview from October 2010 in which Russell Kennedy was first questioned over the alleged assault.

The Kennedys were charged in March last year.

In the interview, Detective Sue Mackle questioned Kennedy about his family history, particularly for the five years the complainant was in his and his ex-wife's care in Greytown.

The court was told the couple had three other daughters who were older than the complainant.

The complainant alleged she was never treated the same as the three other girls, including not being able to eat with the family at dinner time.

But Russell Kennedy said he did not recall that ever happening, nor did he recall his adopted daughter ever being treated differently to the other children.

"It was good. She played up, she always played up.

"You had to pay her a lot of attention all the time.

"She was just one of the kids."

Teachers at Greytown Primary contacted social services because the young girl was often turning up to school without lunch and would take food from the rubbish bin or steal it off other children, Ms Mackle said in the interview.

Russell Kennedy said she had the same lunch as every one else.

"When she was with us she would even go to the rubbish bin," he said.

The school was also concerned that the girl would turn up to school with welts on her legs.

When the complainant later went to police she said she was hit with jug cords and hockey sticks.

"I played hockey but I never hit her with the stick," Russell Kennedy said.

"To us they [bruises and welts] were always there, she could walk around home and come in a bruise or welt."

Kennedy also denied setting one of the family dogs on to her.

He was also accused of holding her under water while bathing her, as well as throwing her into the local pool.

Kennedy told Ms Mackle that he did not recall ever doing that.

He did recall throwing the girl into the pool to help teach her how to swim but he said he would follow directly behind her.

The trial continues.


- Wairarapa Times-Age

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