Prognosis not good for Wairarapa toddler

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014
Caleb Skinner

LITTLE FIGHTER: Caleb Skinner's prognosis is not good.

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The mother of a "cheerful, giggly, cheeky" 2-year-old in a coma after an alleged assault has been told he might not survive, a family friend says.

Monica McKay, a friend of Masterton toddler Caleb Skinner's parents Joanne Smith and Daryll Skinner, drove to Auckland from Ngaruawahia yesterday to support them at Caleb's bedside in Starship children's hospital.

It was heart-wrenching to see the once cheerful, giggly, cheeky little boy bruised, swollen, in a coma and on life support, she said.

"He's a fighter, he was rolling over and trying to pull out his cords . . . they had to hold him down and sedate him."

Ms McKay said a detective told Ms Smith it was unlikely her son would pull through from the serious head injury he sustained on Monday, but the couple still had hope.

Ms McKay spoke to Caleb yesterday. "I just said, ‘I love you heaps Caleb, everybody's thinking of you and I hope you pull through, little man.' "

Mr Skinner boarded with Ms McKay and her husband Scott Murray in Masterton before the couple moved north in 2011.

Ms McKay said criticism on social media of Caleb's parents for not being at home with him was just "stupid little rumours" and the target of any criticism should be whoever might have attacked him.

"It's bloody gutless, it's . . . not Joanne and Daryll. They were both working . . . I've known them for a long time and they're both good parents," she said.

She said the couple, who are separated, went through tough times dealing with a bowel condition with which Caleb was born.

Meanwhile, Child, Youth and Family has responded to claims it did not take a warning about Caleb's safety seriously. It was reported that Masterton beneficiary advocate Trevor MacKiewicz phoned CYF to raise concerns about bruises and scratches on Caleb's face, but his concerns were dismissed.

CYF operations general manager Marion Heeney said yesterday that all calls to the agency's contact centre were recorded, and it had not recorded any calls about Caleb.

"Nevertheless, we are taking this allegation extremely seriously, and we are continuing to work with Mr MacKiewicz, as well as our network provider."

Yesterday, Mr MacKiewicz stood by his claims that he had phoned CYF on Friday, and that it downplayed his concerns.

He spoke to Caleb's parents just before 6pm last night and said an attempt was going to be made to remove Caleb's breathing tubes, after which, it was hoped, he would begin breathing on his own.

The couple were stressed and tearful, he said.

A scene examination continued yesterday, and more serious charges could be brought against a man who appeared in the Masterton District Court on Tuesday on an assault charge, police said.

He was arrested on Monday at Caleb's home.

He was remanded in custody until next week and granted interim name suppression.

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