Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Putting a face to child abuse II

Last week we blogged about 5-month-old Jarius Reti, the latest name on New Zealand's Roll of Shame; children who have died as a result of abuse. We're blogging about the face of child abuse again today, but from a different angle.

Meet Trent Owen Ngaruhe Hapuku. Hapuku appeared in the Hastings District Court yesterday facing a charge of manslaughter. Interim name suppression orders lapsed yesterday. Stuff reports:

The man accused of killing a five-month-old boy was found trying to play a PlayStation game as the baby was dying on his shoulder.

Mikara Ranui Jarius Reti died on the evening of January 11 after his mother found him alone with her partner, Trent Owen Ngaruhe Hapuku, 21.

Hapuku, who has been charged with manslaughter, appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday and was remanded in custody without plea until March.

The baby lived with his mother, Jamie Reti, two-year-old brother and Hapuku in a sleepout behind a house in Kingsley Drive, Flaxmere.

Hapuku had been in a relationship with Ms Reti for three to four months and she was three months pregnant with his child.

These details are all too familiar. A young, defenceless child has been brutally bashed by an adult who was not his parent, but who had been brought into his life by his mother. The "couple" had been together "three to four months", and the woman was three months pregnant, despite already having a five-month-old baby to another man. Hapuku's Court appearances so far have been marked by suppport from Mongrel Mob members and associates.

The Stuff story then publishes details from the Police summary of facts. Be warned; it's not a pretty story, and if you find these kinds of details distressing, you may wish to stop reading at this point. It is however a story that must be told - read on, with that caveat:

The police statement of facts alleges that, about 6.30pm on January 11, Jarius's brother needed to be bathed and was taken to the main house by his mother.

Hapuku was left in sole charge of Jarius and proceeded to feed him but he did not drink the normal amount and became sleepy. Hapuku burped him and put him in his cot.

Fifteen minutes later Ms Reti returned and the baby appeared to be in good health. She returned to the main house for 45 minutes to complete tending to her other son and to eat her dinner.

Police allege that nobody else went into the sleepout and Hapuku somehow caused critical blunt-force injury to the baby's liver, severing it, and fracturing four of his ribs.

The injury to the liver probably resulted from it being crushed internally against the baby's spinal column, police say.

He would have been in severe pain and he vomited over Hapuku's shoulder while being held.

It is alleged the baby continued bleeding internally and rapidly lost blood, which caused his face to turn pale. Massive bleeding caused him to go into shock and lose consciousness.

When Ms Reti returned to the sleepout, she found Hapuku trying to play a PlayStation game while holding the boy over his shoulder.

She saw the baby's pale face and decided to take him straight to Hawke's Bay Hospital. The baby was wrapped in a blanket with Hapuku monitoring him on the way.

Hospital staff found he was not breathing and were unable to revive him.

The Playstation revelation, and Hapuku's alleged indifference to wee Jarius' distress as his life slipped away are shocking. It seems that a five-month-old child's life was of far less importance to Hapuku than getting his thrills on his Playstation. One can only wonder; what game was Hapuku playing? We have little doubt that it was something brutal; a game where the objective is to cause as much death and destruction as possible, with no consequences for the perpetrator of the violence. Hapuku is about to learn that in real life, there ARE consequences, and that prisons are not nice places for people who abuse children.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, the Stuff story ends thus:

Hapuku told police he knew he would get the blame because he was the only person with the baby. He said he did not know how the injuries happened.

A pathologist's report found the baby was also suffering from healing fractures to his ribs that were estimated as being between a week and a fortnight old.

The report found that the injuries were likely to have been caused as the result of a front-to-back crushing injury.

Yes, you read it right; this was not the first time that Jarius Reti, aged 5 months, had been the victim of violence. That is yet another revelation about this case that has sickened us.

Now, difficult as it may be, let's be fair; Trent Hapuku has not been convicted of anything yet, and is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The evidence against him however is damning.

The TV advertisements tell us that domestic violence is not OK, and they're right. And violence against children is absolutely wrong. We would hope that CYFS and other social agencies become involved with Jarius' mother to ensure that her yet-to-be-born child does not suffer a similar fate.

Writing this post hasn't been easy. But let's be honest here; New Zealand has an appalling record in the area of child abuse. Yes, Maori are over-represented in the abuse figures, but this is not simply a Maori issue, and the overwhelming majority of Maori parents don't abuse their children. It is a New Zealand problem, and presents an enormous problem for ALL New Zealand political and social leaders.

We don't pretend to have any answers. We do know this however; Jarius Reti deserved a damn sight better than what was dished up to him in his five months on this earth.


Anonymous said...

More crime porn from you Inv2?
Gratuitous revelling in the nasty side of life?
How many posts of this nature have you made?
Makes you feel...what?

Inventory2 said...

@ Anon - it's not intended to be crime porn. You ask what it makes me feel; the answer to that is revulsion. If you go back to the post from last week, you see a picture of a cheeky, chubby 5-month-old who was ALLEGEDLY brutally beaten by someone entrusted to care for him.

What's the answer? Should we sweep cases like Jarius' under the carpet for fear of upsetting peoples' sensibilities? Or should we bring cases like this out into the open?

Quite honestly, I can't understand the mentality of someone who ALLEGEDLY bashes a baby then goes back to his Playstation. I'm sorry if that offends you.

gravedodger said...

Nice hair though. Ginga is very fashionable this year.
Keep up the pressure IV2 until the dominant culture involved in the appalling stats of child abuse and those who die from it take ownership of the problem. Alas it will continue unabated until that ownership is taken and the welfare that seems to fuel it is addressed.
Wasn't this POS playing with a "bloody playstation' as the little child was dying. I guess play station would be essential activity in caring for little ones, so so sad and it just continues seemingly unabated.

Anonymous said...

You post a lot on the ills of the country. That's fine. But why not offer solutions. You seem to be a real doom monger and negative type. By all means post about the worst of New Zealand, burt how about provide some insight and positive action to better the situation too? Or are you devoid of such humanity. Just wanting to instill fear. Quite a lot like those Friends at Fox News. You'd be respected for helping rather than blogging.

Inventory2 said...

You make a fair point Anon, because as an individual, I don't have any solutions. I do however know that beating a five-month-old baby with such force that his ribs and spinal column cause his liver to sever in not the act of a rational human being.

Let's start by not denying that we have a dreadful incidence of child abuse in this country, and that far too many children die needlessly. Let's not be afraid to look at the social circumstances of individual cases. Let's not be afraid to question the effect that graphic and violent video games are having on people. Let's not be afraid to question whether or not relationship-hopping is a bad thing without opening ourselves to accusations that we are moralising.

Sadly, the facts disclosed by the police yesterday in this case are all too familiar. The child was allegedly beaten by an adult partner who was not his parent. Was Hapuku employed? There are suggestions of gang affiliations.

No Anon, we don't have any answers; just a list of questions. Do you?

kevin said...

Who would possibly support this hapuku loser?

Anonymous said...

What an intelligent question Kevin. You illustrate the deep thinking of this blog's readers.

Inventory2 said...

@ Anon; you're including yourself, no doubt?

@ Kevin: Here's your answer, from the Herald last week

"Shouts of support for a 21-year-old man accused of the manslaughter of a five-month-old baby in Hastings were quickly shut down by the judge in Hastings District Court today.

Judge Russell Callander cut short the disruption as one young man gave the Mongrel Mob salute and chanted in Maori, while a woman yelled "I love you".

The display of emotion from the public gallery came hard on the heels of mayhem that erupted in Napier District Court last Wednesday, when the family of five-year-old Sahara Baker-Koro, found dead after a sexual violation in her home just before Christmas, began screaming abuse at her alleged attacker and had to be restrained by police and security staff."

It would seem that not everyone is as repulsed by this crime as you or I ...

Anonymous said...

"I do however know that beating a five-month-old baby with such force that his ribs and spinal column cause his liver to sever in not the act of a rational human being."

There you are again Inv2 - sensationalising your comments. I feel as you do about violence toward children but can discuss it without regurgatating the sordid details. You seem like someone who has an ulcer on their leg and says, 'look, there it is, look how it oozes pus when I squeeze it, look what happens when I rub your nose in it', where a non-sensationaliser might say 'I've got an ulcer on my leg'.
Do you take my meaning?

Inventory2 said...

I've sensationalised nothing Anon - did you not read this in the body of the post?

Police allege that nobody else went into the sleepout and Hapuku somehow caused critical blunt-force injury to the baby's liver, severing it, and fracturing four of his ribs.

The injury to the liver probably resulted from it being crushed internally against the baby's spinal column, police say.

Are you a parent? Have you taken care of young children? I can't imagine what would go through the mind of someone to cause them to inflict that kind of injury on a defenceless toddler; allegedly, of course.

This, or any kind of abuse has no place in a civilised society. But it keeps happening. So let's not beat around the bush and pretend that it doesn't; let's talk about it in a frank and open way.

Anonymous said...

God could have intervened. Or not? Please can you let us know your thoughts on this INV2. It is an interesting topic that may or may not get to the crux of the terrible deed. (Plus it doesn't invoke politics as a solution, but something more significant).

Anonymous said...

"I've sensationalised nothing"


How can I say this?

Please look closely at your statement.


Inventory2 said...

@ Anon 6.14pm; it would be sensationalism if I aws reporting on something that didn't happen. It is not sensational to report the facts, irrespective of how unapalatable they may be.

Inventory2 said...

@ Anon 4.25pm - I am not a theologian, nor would I presume to know the mind of God.

Oswald Bastable said...

The full horror of these despicable crimes NEEDS to be fully publicized.

There are too many folks out there that can't believe people can do such things.

If they did, we might get a bit more public support for Jack Ketch.

Anonymous said...

Pigs rolling in mud - stinking, putrid mud. And loving it!

Oswald Bastable said...

I wonder at the motive of folks who want this sort of reporting swept under the carpet...

Anonymous said...

Inv2 is not reporting he's commenting. The reporting is already done. Inv2 should be adding to the reporting, providing comment, offering solutions. ways forward, intelligent comment not raw, emotional revelling in sordid detail because THAT'S WHAT HE IS DOING!!
Bad Inv2!
Act responsibly man!

Inventory2 said...

@ Anon; I'm entitled to my opinion, and you're entitled to yours. Clearly, our opinions differ. However I do not resile from anything which I have blogged or commented on in this thread.

@ Oswald; you're dead right; this dreadful case is outside many people's comfort zones. That shouldn't be a justification for silence, or for avoiding the allegations of appalling violence against a five-month-old.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree Inventory 2, when you say the problem is all of ours. I am truly sickened by this case, but what am I supposed to do? I am not a politician, have no power to change the system, if I had tried to interfere I would be tried and hung for not minding my business, I did not cause the problem, I have no platform on which to fix it. ONLY those at the levers can do this, the culture of CYFS is sick in itself, the DPB system just encourages abuse, and this was not the first time this baby had been badly treated. What does that tell you? Once again, CYFS already knew about the family, and once again, a child is dead, anyway. Flipping hopeless. NZ, definately a dying state. But I don't see as someone who didnt'even know the baby or family etc, how itg can be MY problem as well.

Anonymous said...

Manslaughter? Shouldn't murder be more appropriate? Don't tell me he's going to just get a few paltry years, if that. This country is a dark place these days, where has the decency gone to? CYFS should be disbanded, they are part of the problem, not the solution.

Inventory2 said...

@ Anon (8.29pm) - fair comment; the "all of us" comment referred to my opinion in this original post that this isn't simply a Maori issue, although in this case both the victim and the alleged offender were Maori. It's a recognition that child abuse occurs right across society.

It's hard to disagree with your comments re CYFS and about the role of welfare dependance in this case where the mother had barely recovered from giving birth to Jarius before she became pregnant to Hapuku. One can only wonder what life awaits that child.

Suz said...

Agreed 8.40 anon...manslaughter seems a final obscenity to this child's tragic end.

Inventory2 said...

No argument from me on that score Suz and Anon. The violent nature of this crime should have resulted in a murder charge. There was a successful murder prosecution here in Wanganui prior to Christmas where the key element of the Crown's case was the obvious difference in physique between the perp and the victim ( a 2yo, from memory) making death as a result of the assault almost inevitable. Surely that could at least be tried in this case.

Anonymous said...

"You ask what it makes me feel; the answer to that is revulsion."

You feel revulsion at your own post Inv2?
You post on each and every instance like this, often more than one per revolting act, yet you feel revulsion when you do it.
Very, very odd, your need to share your revulsion with the world, over and over.

Anonymous said...

He would've been playing Call of Duty, I'd put $100 on it.

Its not a specifically brutal game (as the likes of GTA4 for example) but when playing online, its more common than you think to hear young children in the background of people's microphones.


Chuck Bird said...

Thanks for putting up the details. They help make it clear the charge should have been murder.

What does anonymous do to help prevent this sort of crime?

I give financial support the the Sensible Sentencing Trust which lobby for murder to be the appropriate charge for child killing such as these.

I for one think Inventory2 is doing something positive.

It is easier to criticise anonymously than do something positive.

Inventory2 said...

Appreciate your comment Chuck; thanks

m00va said...

Innocent til proven guilty. A pathologist's report found the baby was also suffering from healing fractures to his ribs that were estimated as being between a week and a fortnight old. Why hadn't he been charged for those? maybe he wasn't there at the time. People judge far too quickly, the media only print brutality because it sells. If people know that children are being abused, they need to speak up, let them know you're watching them, because if you don't you're as much a coward as the abuser, take the heat and be a hero for the children of NZ

Anonymous said...

well for your information it wasnt call of duty he was playing so u owe me $100.00 and Kia Ora to the +ve feed back Innocent until Proven Guilty,Oh so true wats up with the Lynch Mobb.....
And no he wasnt Gang affiliated the Family have no affiliations.So people need to get their facts right,yes a child passed,yes someone is guilty.....So let the judge in the court room do his job.
Aunty of the Accused bring it......

Anonymous said...

I don't hate the accused
What i would like to know is what were you thinking?
Baby was in your care so why not care for him?
Why'd you try playing the playstation?
Cousin to the passed......

Anonymous said...

maybe why he was playing the game was because the baby was crying and like some parents, he needed to do something so he doesn't get mad. When my friends baby cry's and cry's my friend watches TV to block her baby.
As for the old fractures some1 else could have done it. You shouldn't blame some1 or blog about them until they have been found guilty

Anonymous said...

Did any1 ask what was he doing while the baby was crying, Just maybe he was trying to settle him/her down and when baby started to quite down he thought "yes, i better not put him down he mite start crying again" So he grab the control and played.

Anonymous said...

I know both parties and You can see on his face he never meant to seriously hurt him. But the sad thing is he did.! But as for the previous injuries was this baby in the care of this man and the mother or was it the father and step mother, so many factors and not enough evidence. There is only one person that knows what happened and he cant speak out and tell us,