The Intent To Harm

Part 2 – Murder versus Manslaughter.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month

For one moment I want you to the visualise the two different physical attributes between an adult male who weighs 95kg and a baby who weighs 4kg. Now I want you to visualise the two physical attributes between an adult female who weighs 70kg and a baby who weighs 4kg. The baby has absolutely no possibility of being able to protect himself against either adult, male or female. The physical force in which each adult could intentionally hit, strike, shake, punch, throw or drop a baby boy or baby girl in cases of child abuse would create serious if not life-threatening injuries.

The definition of intent – determined to do (something), purpose or aim. As soon as an adult makes the choice to harm a child there is ‘intent’ and this choice made by perpetrators to intentionally harm our most innocent and vulnerable victims needs to be seriously addressed within our Justice system, in all cases of child abuse.

This is especially relevant of cases of child homicide and the legal rulings between Murder versus Manslaughter. You cannot tell me that an adult perpetrator who intentionally shakes a baby violently does not understand that their actions are not going to cause brain injuries? You cannot tell me that an adult perpetrator that throws a baby against a wall or drops a baby intentionally on the ground with force is not going to suffer from severe internal and external injuries?

The definition of Murder is when one person kills another deliberately or while acting recklessly, knowing that death is likely. So, let’s go back to our example of an adult weighing 95kg and a baby weighing 4 kg. The adult intentionally picks up the baby and violently shakes the baby because the baby is upset and crying. Is this action deliberate? Is this action reckless? Is this violence made with intent? I am no legal scholar, but common sense screams this intentional choice made by an adult should be deemed murder!

As soon as an adult makes the choice to harm a child, there is ‘intent’.

Little Jordon was 3 years old when he passed away. Over a four-day period he was punched and struck with a metal studded belt. He had a broken arm, bruising to his head, face, chest, back and bottom. His heart, lungs and diaphragm were bruised. His right adrenal gland was severed. His stomach contained one third of a litre of blood. He had a black eye. Little Jordon suffered ongoing violence for four days! His offender was found guilty of manslaughter and was sentenced to eight years in prison. Four days of intentional, reckless, and deliberate violence – how was this not murder?

Little Liotta was 5 years old when he passed away. He had over one hundred bruises on his little body. He was struck with a broken fan-belt and a wire car aerial. Liotta’s death was caused by aspiration of the gastric contents and acute soft tissue injuries. His offender was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years, increased to seven on appeal. The abuse inflicted on Liotta was extremely violent and prolonged. Multiple internal injuries caused by intentional, reckless, and deliberate violence – How is this not murder?

Every five weeks one of our most innocent children is dying due to horrific acts of intentional violence. A shameful and distressing reality. We as a nation are failing and so is our Justice System. Anyone capable of intentionally harming a child that results in death must be charged and sentenced to murder!

– Karrin Coates
Waikato Victim Advisor of SSGT


Please join us if you would like to receive important news & updates from us.

Please consider donating to SST or SSGT to support the work we are doing to raise awareness and advocate for victims of serious crime in New Zealand.

Scroll to Top