Child left in car outside strip club may now need skin grafts

The 18-month-old boy left unattended in a car while his father went to a Wellington strip club early one morning is in Hutt Hospital with burns after he was put into the care of his mother, his father says.

Wayne Schwamm's young son was burned two days ago when boiling hot coffee spilt on his chest, he told TV One's Close Up.

The boy was put in the care of his mother by Child Youth and Family (CYF) after Schwamm went into a strip club last week and left him in a locked car for about 40 minutes.

A passerby noticed the boy at about 3am and called police.

On Monday, Schwamm was fined $200 after pleading guilty to a charge of leaving a child under 14 without reasonable supervision.

Schwamm's lawyer John Tannahill told the court that he had gone to pick up a friend who worked there so they could discuss a domestic matter with the boy's mother.

Schwamm said last night his son had been taken from Palmerston North Hospital to Hutt Hospital's specialist burns unit, but he had been unable to see him.

The mother had contacted him and said a decision would be made today on whether to take the boy to Auckland Hospital for skin grafts.

He had not been told about his son officially, and although the mother had asked him to come to the hospital, he said he was not allowed to see the boy or mother without permission.

After he contacted CYF, a case worker called him to arrange a time to visit his son.

"I was told that he was placed with this person because he was going to be safe, and I questioned, 'so are you saying that he's not safe with me?' and they said 'no, no we're not saying that at all'," Schwamm said. "So I've asked for something in writing, to say what it is that is being said."

He said he did not want the child placed in the mother's custody, with whom he had issues, but preferred to have him with a CYF carer.

He estimated he would spend about 60-70 per cent of the day caring for the boy.

"He needs me, I believe, we're a unit, and whether it's with the mum there helping or on our own."

Schwamm will appear in Palmerston North District Court on May 3 on a charge of common assault relating to a domestic incident with the boy's mother.

- NZPA