Deliberate or Accidental?

Part 3 – Murder versus Manslaughter.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.

One precious child dies every five weeks as a result of violence in New Zealand. Children under the age of 12 months make up the majority of this devastating statistic. Children under five years of age; particularly infants and newborns, are most at risk of violence and maltreatment in New Zealand. How anyone could even consider ever harming an innocent child is beyond comprehension. To violently abuse a vulnerable child causing death is unforgivable.

If a perpetrator intentionally and violently abuses a child, and child dies from the perpetrators actions then the only charge that must be considered within our Justice System is murder. Our Justice system sees the killing of a child quite differently, taking the less serious punishment or easier ruling of Manslaughter. The definition of murder is when one person kills another deliberately or while acting recklessly, knowing that death is likely. Manslaughter generally refers to accidental homicide arising from an unlawful act or failure to act, where death could not reasonably be expected.
Please remember these two words deliberate versus accidental when you read the following four cases of horrific child abuse cases that resulted in the death of four innocent children all under the age of 7 years of age.

One precious child dies every five weeks as a result of violence in New Zealand.

Case One
Little Mereana was 6 years old when she passed away. Mereana had suffered three violent brain traumas from the time she was born. The first was when she was only 6 months of age. The last was approximately 3 ½ hours before she died. Mereana had endured ongoing abuse, suffering from a range of deliberate non-fatal injuries before she died. This included bruising and broken bones. Mereana died from a fatal brain injury.

Mereana’s killer was sentenced to manslaughter.

Case Two
Little Pirimai was only 17 months old when she passed away. He suffered severe head and internal injuries after being thrown across the room because he cried during a rugby game that was being televised live. Pirimai was struck violently on the back and shaken severely before being thrown. Pirimai landed on his head causing fatal head and internal injuries.

Pirimai’s killer was sentenced to manslaughter.

Pictured: Little Mereana was 6 years old when she passed away. Source: Stuff

Case Three
Baby Mereana.A was only 14 months when she passed away. Mereana suffered a violent fatal punch to the stomach because she was crying due to feeling unwell. The force in which Mereana was punched, ruptured her bowel and tore a major artery in the gastrointestinal tract. She suffered from extensive haemorrhaging and blood loss that forced her abdominal organs against her spine, rupturing her bowel. Her fatal injuries were compared to those seen with aircraft and motorbike accidents. Mereana died within a short period of being fatally punched.

Mereana’s killer was sentenced to manslaughter.

Case Four
Little Ngatikaura was only 3 years old when he passed away. He was beaten to death with a baseball bat and oar handle. The fatal assault took place over two days because little Ngatikaura had wet himself due to the result of previous beatings he had suffered.

Ngatikoura’s killer was sentenced to manslaughter.

Pictured: Ngatikaura Ngati was only 3 years old when he passed away. Source: NZHerald

Please remember our children are our most vulnerable of all victims. They cannot defend themselves against a grown adult. They have no power to speak, or to inform others they are being harmed. They cannot say no or please stop.

All four children in these cases were deliberately and intentionally harmed by adults who were meant to be caring, protecting and loving each victim. All four killers were found guilty of manslaughter.

Do you believe manslaughter was the appropriate charge?

– Karrin Coates
Waikato Victim Advisor of SSGT

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