A Child, Youth and Family contracted caregiver physically assaulted and verbally abused children in his care, calling them names such as "fat boy", "fat ****", "charity kid" and "peasant".

Peter Wayne Purcell, 54, admitted to the abuse at the Napier District Court this morning. He pleaded guilty to two charges of assault of a child and one charge of common assault. The charges relate to multiple instances of abuse against three boys.

The police summary of facts stated the acts of abuse Purcell committed against the children, in late 2010 and early 2011, included grabbing a child by the throat, throwing him onto a couch, kicking him, throwing a basketball at them, pulling hair out, punched on the arm, back and stomach.

Purcell was a CYF contracted caregiver, employed by the Heretaunga Maori Executive (HME) in Hastings which cares for young people before the courts and from difficult backgrounds.

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In addition to the assaults, the children suffered verbal abuse and at various times were told to "shut up", "harden up" and stop being a "little bitch".

The case was set to go to trial this morning until Purcell changed his pleas to guilty. Interim name suppression, granted so he could inform his elderly father, lapsed at 1pm today.

One boy was placed in Purcell's care in November 2010 before he ran away late December. He was found on the streets by police and returned to Purcell's home six days later. He ran away a second time four days later.

Purcell, who had since resigned from HME, was remanded on bail for sentencing in August.

CYF declined to comment, as the matter was still before the courts.