NZ Herald 22 July 2016
Family First Comment: Children deserve the fullest protection of the strongest law we can give them. When adults thrash, bash and shake little children, they should not be able to hide behind the lesser manslaughter charge. It’s murder.
Anyone inflicting violence against children should be charged with murder, rather than manslaughter, a family safety advocate says.
Tawera Wesley Wichman, 24, was sentenced at the Wellington High Court today to three years and 10 months in prison for shaking his 11-month-old daughter Teegan Tairoa-Wichman to death in 2009.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said this was a tragic case which involved a vulnerable family.
“He [Wichman] was young and it seemed like there was support to start with and it dissipated over time.
“The support lessened over time but it was pretty evident the family weren’t out of the woods yet,” he said.
He thought a manslaughter charge shouldn’t apply when extreme violence was inflicted on babies and toddlers.
“Children are vulnerable. To argue that injury or death was not intentional, so therefore murder can’t be applied … it doesn’t do justice.”
McCoskrie said in this case, the parents were told of the dangers of shaking a baby.
“They knew they couldn’t shake a baby.
“When dealing with children and babies, you should be able to foresee shaking or treating a baby or toddler roughly or with violence could result in injury or death,” he said.
He said it was clear Child Youth and Family (CYF) had high concerns for the twins when they were discharged from the special-care baby unit.
“To me, this shows the whole issue of when the red flags are raised and when it is clear these are the ones we need to put time and resources into.”
He said it didn’t matter whether the act of violence was just one-off or over a long period of time.
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