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Sister denies damaging headstone

AMY MAAS
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2014
Two-year-old Jazmhyn Leiataua’s headstone
PETER MEECHAM/Fairfax NZ
DESECRATED: Two-year-old Jazmhyn Leiataua’s headstone was allegedly kicked over and found in flax bushes.

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A woman has admitted damaging a toddler relative's gravestone but her sister denies the offending.

In the Manukau District Court last Friday Alisa Taualofa, 27, pleaded guilty to damaging the gravestone in June last year.

She was jointly charged with Faaleilei Taualofa, 22, who has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Anna Johns described the offending as "disturbing" and "bizarre" and remanded both the sisters on bail.

Alisa Taualofa will be sentenced in March and will undergo restorative justice. Faaleilei Taualofa will reappear in court in April.

The headstone, which had to be repaired, marks the grave of 2-year-old Jazmhyn Leiataua, the daughter of the Taualofas' cousin Juliana Henry.

The toddler was crushed under the family car in a steep Mangere driveway shortly before Christmas 2010 after her 5-year-old brother accidentally released the handbrake.

Ms Henry had been cleaning out the boot at the time and tried desperately to stop the car from rolling down the driveway. She suffered critical injuries, including a broken pelvis, collapsed lung, torn liver and fractured ribs.

The little girl died in hospital a few days later.

Earlier this month, Ms Henry told Fairfax Media that the thought of the gravestone being damaged sickened her and she had no clue as to why it happened.

She said in July last year she received a Facebook message, created under a pseudonym, in which the person bragged about a group of people stealing the headstone and defecating on it. Ms Henry and her partner reported the incident to police and the headstone was later found in a flax bush at the Mangere Lawn Cemetery. Fairfax NZ News

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- Manukau Courier

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