Part 1 – Murder versus Manslaughter.
An innocent child cannot defend themselves against an adult. They are completely vulnerable. They cannot tell their perpetrator to stop, to say no or please help me. If they are hurt, sick, lonely, afraid, or hungry their only level of communication comes in the form of crying; that is all they have. Babies, toddlers, and children rely on us as parents, caregivers, extended family members and as adults to protect them, to nurture, love and keep them safe; to provide them with all the necessities of life. Note it had to keep them safe in twice – I have take out but couldn’t show you Ihad other than typing this.
One child is killed every five weeks in New Zealand, a shocking and shameful statistic that is not decreasing. The abuse they suffer before death is unforgivable, questioning how any ‘human’ could behave with such intentional, brutal violence.
I say the word ‘intentional’ violence for a very important reason – every adult has a choice. An innocent child does not. An adult’s choice will always result in a consequence. If an adult makes the choice to pick up a four-month-old baby and intentionally throw that baby against a wall, the consequences of that action will cause serious, life-threatening injuries for the innocent and vulnerable baby.
“One child is killed every five weeks in New Zealand, a shocking and shameful statistic that is not decreasing”
Over the past three weeks we have written about the shocking abuse our (I’ve taken out precious here as you have it in the next sentence as well) most vulnerable victims have suffered. We have written about the innocent lives lost due to the violent choices those responsible for protecting these precious children have made. The intentional, violent loss of a child is unforgivable; but what happens when our Justice System makes the decision to find a child killer guilty of manslaughter not murder?
There are two main categories of culpable homicide (the illegal killing of one person by another) – murder and manslaughter. 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.
Baby Bella was only eight months old when she lost her life to a horrific act of cruelty and violence. Bella was upset and crying. Her offender picked her up and threw her so violently to the ground she died. Bella suffered a subdural haemorrhage to the brain and spinal cord. She also suffered a retinal haemorrhage and hypoxic brain damage. Her injuries were not survivable. Little Bella passed away at her home on the 7th of November 2016. The offender received a five-year sentence for manslaughter. A minimum parole period was not set, so he will be eligible for his first parole hearing after serving only 16 months. Bella’s killer deliberately picked her up and violently threw her, so why was Bella’s death not considered murder?
Little Ariah was only two years old when she lost her life to what the Defence described as a playful accident! The Defence pushed for an accidental death due to the offender spinning Ariah around inside their home. Archer lost his grip resulting in Ariah hitting her head so violently against the wall, she fell to the ground and never regained consciousness. She passed away on the 22nd of August 2018. Little Ariah’s injuries were compared to a child being involved in a serious car crash or falling from a two-storey building. Pathology records showed she died of a catastrophic brain injury, and she had at least 20 bruises on her head. The offender received a seven-year sentence for manslaughter. He must serve four years before he is eligible for parole. Ariah’s killer acted recklessly so why was this not considered murder?
– Karrin Coates
Waikato Victim Advisor of SSGT
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