8 May 2014

Former CYF caregiver found guilty

7:59 pm on 8 May 2014

A Whangarei man found guilty of raping children in his care is devastated by the verdict, his lawyer says.

A jury in the High Court at Whangarei on Thursday found Taite Kupa, 57, guilty of 10 charges of assaulting children in his care, and 11 out of 13 charges of rape or sexual violation of children - including three of rape.

Kupa ran a Child, Youth and Family home with his wife, and the charges related to six children placed in their care - including two girls in their early teens.

The jury of eight women and four men returned with their verdicts on Thursday afternoon after deliberating since Wednesday morning.

They were unanimous in finding Kupa guilty on 10 counts of assaulting children by kicking them and pinching their ears.

By a majority verdict of 11 to one, they found him guilty of 11 out of 13 charges of sexual assault on two girls, from attempted sexual violation to rape.

Kupa was impassive after the verdicts were read but several of the jurors were in tears.

His lawyer, Kelly Ellis, said outside the court he was devastated by the verdict.

However, it was too soon to say whether he would appeal, she said.

"It's early days yet and we've all just come away in a state of shock.

"We'll have to contemplate the various options, so no decision has been made on it and, indeed, it hasn't even been discussed or even really thought about."

Ms Ellis also questioned the reliability of a witness, and claimed evidence given against Kupa may not have been valid.

"Child, Youth and Family put up a witness who wasn't even there at the time, who had nothing to do with the running of the home at the time, and I thought that that was enormously convenient for them," she said.