Child abuse case ‘had to be shelved’

Taranaki Daily News 5 Dec 2011
Police say they were left with “no real option” other than to shelve a case against a man accused of child abuse. The South Taranaki farmer walked free from court last month after a judge ruled a jury could not be expected to determine who was responsible for the 14-month-old’s injury. Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Coward, head of New Plymouth’s CIB, said there was no intention to appeal against the judge’s decision. “Cases such as this can be problematic in that there are never any witnesses.” The child suffered a fractured skull, but had been in the care of several people during the time the injury happened. Medical experts did not believe the injury was accidental. The case has prompted former children’s commissioner Ian Hassall to draw comparisons with how people close to the Kahui twins closed ranks after the deaths of the babies.

…Patrick Kelly, Starship Children’s Hospital clinical director of the child protection team and chairman of the New Zealand Paediatric Society’s child protection committee, said that his research over 20 years showed that New Zealanders prosecuted for causing head injuries to children had a 2:1 chance of getting away with it. In his experience families did not own up or confess. “Denial is universal.
The Kahui case was a dramatic example of this.” The Crimes Act is being reviewed as a direct result of the frustration over the Kahui case and the Government is in the latter stages of considering an
amendment to include a charge of “failure to protect” a child. “If you can’t determine who in the family did it then clearly you charge them all,” Dr Kelly said