Hall of Shame

Mother jailed for assaulting kids



A woman who repeatedly assaulted her three children, including a one-year-old boy, has been jailed for 3-1/2 years.

The 41-year-old woman has name suppression to protect the identity of her children. She was found guilty by a jury last month on nine counts of assault with a weapon and one of assault on a child under the age of 14.

During the Dunedin District Court trial, the jury heard evidence that the children were assaulted over a 21 month period with weapons that included a jug cord, tent pole, belt and wooden spoon during various incidents in Napier, Gisborne and Invercargill.

In sentencing today, Judge Stephen O’Driscoll said the children had “suffered tremendously” over the period of the offending.

He said they were assaulted for everyday occurrences and lived in “a climate of violence and fear”.

Five of the charges of assault with a weapon were representative charges and the judge said he was satisfied the assaults happened on a regular basis.

He advised the woman to read the victim impact reports for the three children, who were aged from one to nine years when the offending started.

He noted the woman had shown remorse after being found guilty but said it was unfortunate to put the children through a trial that included cross-examination in court by her attorney following their video statements.

The woman strenuously denied 11 of the 12 charges, only conceding that she had hit one of the children with a belt because he put a hole in a wall.

Her defence on that charge was one of reasonable force, a defence that is no longer available under new “anti-smacking” legislation but still applies in this case because the incident happened before the new law came into force.

Judge O’Driscoll said he had considered not only making the woman’s name public but also the names of her three children so that the wider public would know what they had been through and show understanding for their resulting behavioural problems.

Defence counsel Tim Fournier took some issue with the impact statements of the three victims, saying it was not proved their behavioural problems were solely the result of the assaults.

However, the judge said the victim reports made “disturbing reading” and the children’s potential in life had been seriously compromised by that.

The youngest boy was suffering from post traumatic stress and the other boys were having social difficulties, anger and grief issues and displaying violent tendencies.


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