19 Nov 2008

Child's death just "one of those things" - killers' family

10:46 am on 19 November 2008

The family of two brothers found guilty of murdering Nia Glassie says the child's death is "one of those things" that just happens.

A jury in the High Court at Rotorua on Tuesday found Wiremu and Michael Curtis guilty of murder due to fatal head injuries in July last year. She was aged three years.

Her mother, Lisa Kuka, was found guilty on two charges of manslaughter.

Two others, Oriwa Kemp and Michael Pearson, were found guilty of child cruelty.

The jury took nearly 11 hours to reach its verdicts.

Curtis family spokesperson Toby Curtis told Morning Report the family does not have a system of violence and abuse.

He said the wider family will still support the brothers, despite the fact they brought about such a traumatic experience.

Meanwhile, the incoming Justice Minister is pledging to tighten sentencing for crimes against children.

Simon Power told Morning Report that he wants the age and vulnerability of a victim to be a specific reference at the time of sentencing.

He said the new Government also hopes to look at the length of sentences for this type of offending.

A Government agency charged with keeping children safe, Child, Youth & Family, says it had no involvement with Nia's family.

'Catalyst' hope police

Police hope the convictions will be a 'catalyst for change' and make people report child abuse.

The Jigsaw child protection service says testimony at the trial made it clear that neighbours were witnesses to Nia's torture.

Chief executive Tau Huirama hopes the case will prompt people to think about the safety of children and start stepping in to defend them.

The New Zealand Herald also quotes Maori community leader Hone Kaa on Wednesday as saying New Zealanders should stop turning a blind eye to child abuse and 'dob in' their neighbours.