Nia Glassie killers' dad 'proud' of boys
The father of the two thugs who tortured and murdered little Nia Glassie says he is "proud of my boys" and will "stand up for them until I die".
And former Black Power member William Curtis who has been charged with abusing three-year-old Nia has told how one of his sons, Michael, went from saving the life of a young girl to taking the life of another.
On Tuesday, at Rotorua High Court, 22-year-old Michael and his 19-year-old brother Wiremu were found guilty of murdering Nia last year. They will be given mandatory life sentences.
Speaking exclusively to Sunday News, William says he is worried about his sons' welfare inside prison.
"They are going to do it hard, do it real real hard, and I feel sorry for them," he said.
"What has happened has happened, but I can still say to you that I am proud of my boys.
"I am not embarrassed to be their dad. I will stand up for them until I die.
"That is Maori culture and that's the way it is."
William, 48, said he felt sorry for Michael because his behaviour was often affected by a horrific car accident he was involved in when he was six.
"It was out in (south Auckland suburb) Manurewa. Michael went down the road with his sister, a car came screaming around the corner and Michael ran out to save his sister, pushed her out of the way, but ended up being the one who was hurt," he said.
Michael received a neck and spinal injury and spent six months in plaster, William said.
"After that he had real trouble reading big words. He can write but only in his own way."
William said he was closer to Michael because he had raised him.
Wiremu went to live with relatives shortly after he was born until he was 14. He then moved to south Auckland with his mother.
William said Michael "is a good kid" who "is not violent".
"He might have done a little bit of stuff to Nia but it wasn't to hurt her, he actually liked Nia," William said.
"In some ways Nia was like his own child. He really loved her."
William, who sat through most of the month-long murder trial and was present when the jury read more than 20 verdicts, said while he accepted the result he remained "unhappy".
"I am still angry at what the jury decided with my two boys, we weren't expecting those decisions," he said.
"The jury did their job. (His son's) lawyers tried their hardest, I mean they were trying to get the possible from the impossible."
Michael and Wiremu were also found guilty of assaulting Nia, and assaulting two other children.
Wiremu's former girlfriend Nia's mother Lisa Kuka, 35 was found guilty of her daughter's manslaughter, by failing to provide medical attention for Nia, and by failing as a parent to take reasonable steps to protect Nia from violence.
Michael's fiancee Oriwa Kemp, 18, was found not guilty of Nia's manslaughter but guilty of assaulting her.
Nia's cousin, Michael Pearson, 20, was found not guilty of Nia's manslaughter but guilty of ill-treating her.
The court heard how during her short but at-times terrible life, she abused, including being kicked in the face, hit, slapped, punched and jumped on, made to bathe in cold water in mid-winter, used for adult wrestling moves copied from a PlayStation game, whirled rapidly on a rotary clothesline until flung off, and put into a tumble dryer and spun on high temperature.
William is due to stand trial next month over allegations he abused Nia. Police say he pulled a scarf around her neck until she went purple an allegation he denies.
"I am a lot more confident of my case and I am looking forward to moving forward. I am hoping I will not be inside over Christmas, that would not be fun ," he said
William said he loved Nia.
"It was sad that Nia passed away. From the bottom of my heart, it will hurt me forever that she is gone," he said.
"She should never have died, she should be here. We all wish the clock could go back, but it can't."