A young nanny who kidnapped a newborn baby after faking an elaborate and delusional pregnancy to fool friends and family has been jailed for three years.
The bizarre case centred around Nadene Faye Manukau-Togiavalu, 21, who was working for a family and caring for their baby girl at their Epsom home in Auckland.
Today in the Auckland District Court, Judge Nicola Mathers sentenced Manukau-Togiavalu for kidnapping, burglary, criminal harassment, making an intimate visual recording and dishonestly using a document.
The young woman's family was in court to support her.
In a letter of remorse, Manukau-Togiavalu said her apology would never be enough for the parents of the baby.
"Incarceration has been the best thing that has happened to me," she said.
Crown prosecutor Kirsten Lummis said the manipulation and premeditation in the case was "extreme".
Before the kidnapping on August 9 last year, Manukau-Togiavalu hosted a hoax baby shower and wore a pregnancy suit as part of her con, social media photos provided to the Herald show.
Her infatuation developed as she claimed that after giving birth her baby was adopted.
Then, enlisting the help of her cousin, Sydnee Shaunna Taulapapa, 18, Manukau-Togiavalu devised a plan to kidnap the then 11-day-old baby from the Pah Rd home.
Taulapapa pleaded guilty to kidnapping and burglary in the High Court at Auckland and was sentenced in April.
She was discharged without conviction but ordered to complete 400 hours' community work and pay $2000 to the baby's parents, if they accepted it, or to a children's charity.
However, the court heard today that the Solicitor-General has appealed Taulapapa's sentence.
Manukau-Togiavalu also pleaded guilty to orchestrating the baby snatch in the Auckland District Court during April.
Today, the baby's father said he woke on the morning of the kidnapping to a "parent's worst nightmare".
"Our 11-day-old baby had been kidnapped."
At Taulapapa's sentencing, he also read his and his wife's victim impact statements.
"It was the worst seven hours of my life," the mother said, reading her letter to the court today.
"Many people have called this a parent's worst nightmare and it was for me."
The family's identity is suppressed.
The first-time mum, recovering from a medical procedure, explained how she and her husband trusted Manukau-Togiavalu, who was recommended to them by a nanny agency.
"She had a good CV and presented herself as experienced and competent," the father said.
Taulapapa had also provided a character reference for her cousin.
The name of the agency, also duped by Manukau-Togiavalu, is suppressed.
The agency shut down its nanny placements after the kidnapping and hired an investigator to review all its nannies.
The baby's father said that early on the morning his daughter disappeared "the world fell out from underneath me".
He recalled Manukau-Togiavalu yelling: "The house has been robbed! The house has been robbed!"
"In my heart I knew straight away something was wrong and Nadene was not telling the truth," the father said.
He explained that he discovered the back door of the home open "and our precious baby was not in her cot".
The terrifying possibility that his baby was gone sent him into a panic and he frantically began searching the streets looking for a person with his daughter.
"Nadene kept saying she had no idea what had happened," he said.
Later, while reviewing CCTV, the father said, "it was like watching something from a horror movie".
"I saw a female wearing a balaclava, peering through our back window.
"She exited through the same door carrying bags and the most precious thing in our lives."
The security footage shows the kidnapper use a remote control to open the gate. The young woman in the balaclava was Taulapapa.
"Where's our baby, Nadene?" he asked her.
About 80 police launched a major search after the baby girl was taken.
She was found about six hours later, but the father said "at this moment I thought we were about to be told they had found her but she was no longer alive".
The mother also described Manukau-Togiavalu as "very calm and very quiet" as she sat in the back of a police car after her arrest.
"I believe she had no remorse," the mother said.
"She is a danger to children and society as a whole."
The mum said she's suffered ongoing stress and anxiety as a result of her baby girl being taken and now feels that she needs to stay in same room as her daughter.
"I still sleep with a baby monitor on my pillow next to my head and wake often to check that she is still there," she said.
She was disturbed to later discover Manukau-Togiavalu and Taulapapa had planned the kidnapping for many months and searched for a "family to target".
"What person could ever think this is okay?"
"We welcomed Nadene into our home thinking she would be kind, caring and honest.
"[She] said she had lost her infant son to a heart condition to gain sympathy, and I believed her."
The father said he still lives with the fear that his daughter will be harmed if he is not there to protect her.
The court has previously heard that Manukau-Togiavalu has serious health issues and had fabricated a story where she'd convinced her family and friends that she'd been forced to give up her baby.
She then sought help from Taulapapa, who was holidaying from Australia at the time, to help get the child back.
"What was going on in Nadene's mind when she weaved this web of deception?" defence counsel Panama Le'Au'Anae said.
Le'Au'Anae said his client was a troubled young woman and is remorseful for what she has done but no words can convey her apologies to the baby's parents.
Manukau-Togiavalu is also the cousin of the late young league star Luke Tipene who was killed by Vincent Skeen.
Tipene died in Manukau-Togiavalu's arms from his stab wounds, and she later gave evidence at Skeen's murder trial.
The court heard today she has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Tipene's death.
Manukau-Togiavalu's criminal harassment and intimate visual recording charges were over her relationship with her former boyfriend, who has name suppression.
"There was no getting away from Nadene, she was living in my house and in my bedroom," the young man's victim impact statement read.
He said Manukau-Togiavalu had told her he was the father of her baby and later began making derogatory remarks about him on social media.
At one point during the relationship, Manukau-Togiavalu had become pregnant but later aborted the pregnancy, the court heard.