18 Aug 2015

Burned baby left for days, court told

4:19 pm on 18 August 2015

A Nelson man has been sentenced to eight months' home detention for failing to get help for at least two days after a child in his care was severely burned on a heater.

Nelson District Court

Nelson District Court Photo: RNZ

Peter Kiwa Moanaroa-Leismann was also sentenced to 120 hours' community service in the Nelson District Court today for the ill treatment and neglect of his 11 month-old step-daughter.

The child's face and arm were seriously burned by an upturned electric fan heater but the scale of the injuries were not immediately obvious to the defendant, the court was told.

Moanaroa-Leismann's partner was out of town at the time, and had left the baby and her two-year-old in his care.

He had placed the baby in a walker and had gone into the laundry, and returned about 15 minutes later to find the heater upside down on the floor, and noted the child's face was "red" and that she was "a bit limp". He put the child to bed, and the next morning noted her face was red and puffy. A blister on her ear burst when he touched it.

He remained at home with the two children for the day, and the following morning while giving the children a bath, the skin on the baby's face peeled off which prompted him to apply some skin cream to the burns.

Moanaroa-Leismann then took the children out for the day but it was not until he spoke with his partner later that day that he was prompted to take the child to Nelson Hospital, from where she was flown within hours to the Lower Hutt burns unit.

Judge Tony Zohrab said doctors noted she would have been in considerable pain and distress at the time the burns occurred, and the defendant had to be held to account for not realising the extent of the situation.

He said Moanaroa-Leismann had no prior experience raising children, and he acknowledged his "parenting skills were inadequate".

His partner and employer had been supportive throughout the ordeal, the court was told.

An alcohol and drugs assessment recommended that he attend an addiction service to address addiction issues.

Judge Zohrab also ordered him to attend an appropriate parenting programme.