Media Release 27 June 2016
Family First NZ is welcoming the sentence of 17 years given to the killers of Moko, but is continuing to call for a review of child abuse laws and for changes to the legal system to avoid ‘plea bargains’ and child abuse killers having their charges reduced from murder to manslaughter.
“The message has to be clear – if you violently abuse a child in such a way that it results in their death, then it will be treated as murder. Violent child abusers should not get ‘manslaughter’ when the child victim gets a life sentence,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“New Zealand reject the concept of the killers of Moko having a ‘plea bargain’ to reduce their conviction from murder to manslaughter. Manslaughter suggests it was an ‘accident’. Anybody who reads how little Moko was treated in his final days can see that this was intentional violent abuse with no surprise that death would be a consequence. Justice Katz described the case as “sustained brutality against a vulnerable child“.”
“But this is not the first time. Manslaughter convictions have been recorded rather than murder convictions in the violent murders of 3-year old Ngatikauri Ngati, 13-month old Trent Matthews, 7-week old Milton Raroa, Lillybing, Delcelia Witka and James Whakaruru.”
“Manslaughter refers to accidental homicide arising from an unlawful act or failure to act, where death could not reasonably be expected. But these cases are not accidental. They are violent acts and extreme abuse of vulnerable defenceless children who deserve protection,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Children should not be part of a ‘plea bargain’. We should not ‘bargain’ the lives of vulnerable defenceless children. Yet we are. When an adult treats a child with violence resulting in their death, manslaughter should not be an option. It’s not ‘accidental’. It’s murder.”
“The finger is often pointed at communities to do more and speak up, but politicians and the legal system must also reflect the revulsion that NZ families have towards the violent murders of defenceless and vulnerable children. The wrong message is currently being sent to society as to how much value is placed on the life of a child. Moko’s case is just another example. This is not the first time. But it has to be the last.”