The Unheard Truth: Kahui Twins

Part 1 – The Right To Silence.

April is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
Pictured: The Kahui Twins

On the 18th of June 2006, two vulnerable babies tragically lost their lives. After being taken off life support at Auckland Starship Children’s Hospital, Cru Omeka Kahui passed away at 5am and his twin brother Christopher Arepa Kahui passed away 14 hours later at 6.45pm. The horrific details of how these precious babies died shocked and angered our country. Two innocent babies who deserved to be loved and nurtured. Two vulnerable babies who should have been safe in their own home. Instead they suffered intentional and unforgivable violence.

Cru’s cause of death was due to a brain injury secondary to trauma. His injuries consistent with being abused 5 to 7 days prior to his death. Cru had healing rib fractures, swelling of the abdominal wall and colon. His brain and skull showed signs of forceful shaking.

Christopher’s cause of death was due to a brain injury secondary to trauma. His injuries also consistent with being abused 5 to 7 days prior to his death. Christopher had healing rib fractures, a fracture of the right femur and a partial skull fracture. His brain and skull also showed signs of forceful shaking.

Parents of the Kahui Twins. Source: NBR

The twin’s injuries were so brutal that specialist paediatrician Dr Patrick Kelly, who is a leading expert in child abuse, said the twins suffered the worst brain injuries he had seen in fifteen years. Christopher’s tiny skull had collapsed inwards due to the severity of his injury. Police and the Coroner agreed that someone had picked up both of the babies and had either thrown them against a hard surface or they had been violently shaken. The head injuries the twins suffered were compared to rapid deceleration – meaning the impact injury is the result of an exerted forceful movement that comes to a dramatic halt. In the twin’s case their brains were still moving inside their tiny heads, once the skull movement had stopped. Every medical intervention available at Auckland Starship Hospital could not save these precious little boys.

What came next will never be forgotten. The Right to Silence. Four direct family members and twenty extended family members were interviewed by the Police after the twin’s deaths. No one spoke up. The ‘Tight 12’ became the reference to the cowardly behaviour of twelve family members who refused to co-operate with the Police investigation. The Right to Silence was questioned by prosecution lawyers, victim advocates, social workers and the concerned public who wanted to see justice served for these innocent, vulnerable babies.

At least nine adults were living in the house where the twins were harmed yet no-one saw anything, no-one was willing to talk, and no-one was willing to co-operate with the Police. Prime-Minister Helen Clark said it was absolutely shocking for the family to hide behind the funeral while everyone was both shocked and revolted by the injuries the twins suffered.

On the 27th of October 2006, Chris Kahui the twin’s father was formally charged with double homicide. Released on bail until his trail Chris Kahui never took the stand. The opportunity to question Chris Kahui was never an option. To seek the truth behind the silence will never be a possibility while the right to silence is legally available to those not willing to take accountability for their crimes or for what they have witnessed.

Chris Kahui was found not guilty on the 22nd of May 2008. It took the Jury only minutes to decide the verdict. Christopher and Cru Kahui would have been 14 years old had they been given the chance to live. Their precious lives mattered, they deserved so much more. A family failed to protect, nurture, and love two vulnerable babies. A family failed to keep two innocent babies safe.

It takes a village to raise a child – this village failed Christopher and Cru Kahui both in life and in death.

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