Adopted girl was 'a slave to family'

Last updated 14:33 06/08/2012

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Wairarapa

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A beaten and starving child was found by Greytown teachers foraging in rubbish bins for food after her adopted family  barely clothed or fed her, a court has heard.

Russell Guy Kenneth Kennedy, 63, and Leonie Kennedy, 59, both of Wairarapa are both charged with cruelly ill-treating and wilfully neglecting a girl under the age of 16 between September 16, 1983 and July 6, 1987 in Greytown.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Crown prosecutor Ian Murray said Amy Matthews, who was placed with the Kennedy's as a toddler, was a slave to the family she was adopted into in Greytown between 1983 and 1987.

Mr Murray said she suffered systematic abuse and neglect.

He said she was subjected to extreme physical violence, regularly hit with a hockey stick, spoon and jug cord. She was held under water by Russell Kennedy. She thought she was going to drown.

''To this day she is too scared to have a bath,'' he told a Wellington District Court jury.

Russell Kennedy took her to the Greytown pools and threw her in despite the fact she could not swim and she was terrified.

Mr Murray said he got one of the family dogs to bite her on her face, leaving scars the jury would see.

She was not given food, often watching the rest of the family eat.

Once she was caught eating scraps and made to eat porridge until she threw up.

She was also not given adequate clothing and bedding and would run away to sleep in a nearby park where she felt safe.

Her primary school teachers noticed she was not dressed correctly for a Wairarapa winter.

Mr Murray said she would tell the jury she had three adopted sisters who were fed and dressed differently, which was also noticed by the school.

Teachers used to feed her after they found her foraging in bins for food.

In police interviews the Kennedys' have denied illtreating the girl.

The trial is expected to take a week.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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