Neglect accused parents in court

The Lower Hutt parents charged with neglecting their children had been partying for two days before police were called to the home and discovered the dire living conditions, say neighbours.

The parents appeared in Lower Hutt court this morning, accused of serious neglect of their children. 

Four of the children, aged 7 months to 4 years, were taken into custody by Child, Youth and Family and assessed for infection by hospital staff. 

Police found the children when they were called to an incident at a Lower Hutt home last Friday. 

A neighbour of the family, who did not want to be named, said the parents had been drinking and partying constantly in the 48 hours before. 

"That Friday night they were all out the front [drinking]... the kids were running across the road, which prompted me ... to call the police. The adults were oblivious to the kids, neglecting them.''

The long-time resident said worry that one of the children would be killed as they crossed the road and played next to the stream prompted her to call the police. 

At least three people were arrested and taken away in a paddy wagon after abuse was hurled at police, but not before a woman drove from the property with unrestrained children in the car, she said.

The neighbour said the family moved into the three-bedroom home just before Christmas, and there had been a lot of drinking, partying, screaming and yelling at the home since their arrival.

She was also concerned that children were often locked in the car outside the home for 15 to 20 minutes sometimes in hot conditions while people argued inside the home.

"They'd put them in there and then there would be yelling and screaming [from the house]. Alarming because they were stuck in the car and they were often crying. We'd hear a baby crying a lot."

The mother, 22, and father, 25, were granted interim name suppression during a brief appearance in Lower Hutt District Court this morning.

The pair were remanded in custody by consent to appear in court again next week.

The father of one of the accused said police had told them little about the allegations. He declined to comment further, as did other family and friends outside court.

It is alleged there was a lack of food in the home, and the children, who had been sleeping on a mattress in the lounge, suffered from poor hygiene. 

The four children and others at the home were removed from their parents' care the same day in an "emergency uplift" and a joint operation involving CYF was launched, police said. 

The children's parents, who are in a de facto relationship, each faced four charges of neglect. 

CYF acting central regional director Bev Markham said it was working closely with police on the case after it was called in to help on the night of the incident. 

"Child, Youth and Family has temporary care of four children and is completing assessments on the other children to ensure they remain safe." 

A spokesman said CYF had carried out its duty of care in relation to the children. He declined to comment further while the case was before the courts. 

Speaking outside court this morning, the brother of the accused father said the young family had just moved into the house.

''Yesterday was the day everything was meant to be delivered but they got picked up [by police] before the delivery.

''There is nothing wrong with them at all. They just got caught at a bad time.''

He said the couple had recently moved to the area and the beds at the home were meant to be delivered yesterday.

They had only been in the house for a week.

He believed the charges were unjust.

The mother of the accused father said the couple were trying to get their lives sorted out.

''They have been trying really hard to get things together but the system is just not letting them have the chance. They are only young kids and they are trying to do their best.''

The couple had four children together. They were babysitting other children on the night police were called to the home, she said.

She said the children had eczema, ''but it's not anything they haven't been looking after''.

''They have been looking after them really well, going to the doctors and all that.''

She was surprised to hear they had been arrested for neglect.

''The father has been looking after them quite well - feeding them and all that.

''I think he has done a great job ... he's got my support.''

Grant Valli, a resident who lived nearby, said he wasn't surprised to hear the parents of the children had been charged with neglect.

"It was almost like a creche. The amount of kids that were in there was unbelievable."

His partner had witnessed near misses on the road when children ran in front of cars, he said. On one occasion a car's tyres were heard screeching as it narrowly avoided hitting a child.

The parents were often drinking heavily and playing loud music.

"They were more interested in hitting the sauce [than looking after the children]."

One morning he saw the woman out front drinking bourbon: "A strange thing to have for breakfast."

He had heard the children up playing as late as 2am in the morning.

Contact Blair Ensor
Police reporter
Twitter: @blairensor

The Dominion Post