Children safe from father for 10 years

21:38, Feb 17 2009

The  mother of three children who nearly died when they were stabbed by their father is relieved they can now grow up without fear of his return for at least 10 years.

Faamanu Milford was sentenced to 15 years' jail after he locked his partner in their house, threatened to kill her and then stabbed their three children while the woman fled for help.

The attack in Lower Hutt in February left the two girls and a boy, then aged three, 18 months, and seven weeks, fighting for their lives in hospital.

Their mother faced Milford in court yesterday and spoke of her children's continuing terror, saying: "He will not beat us."

"It's a lot of closure," she said later. "I faced the demon in a way and I really am not afraid of him any more. It's been extremely healing."

In court, Milford crossed himself as his former partner described the emotional and physical wounds caused on the day he stabbed his children.

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The woman said that running for help was "the hardest choice I will ever have to make - whether to stay with the children and face death by his hand or run and hope that the police could stop him from taking my children from me".

She sobbed as she told the court that she felt her hands were stained by her children's blood because if she had left Milford earlier, the attack might not have happened.

She pleaded with the judge: "Keep us safe."

Crown prosecutor Dale LaHood said the violence and premeditated nature of the attack and the vulnerability of the children, because of their age and because Milford was their father, made the attack especially serious.

Milford's lawyer, Greg King, said Milford was enormously relieved his children were still alive.

Psychologists' reports showed Milford's relationship skills were that of a three-year-old.

His limited psychological functioning was a mitigating factor, Mr King said.

Judge John Walker said he did not agree that Milford had any mental impairment that contributed to his offending.

The absence of any empathy gave "considerable cause for concern" for the safety of the community.

"These children deserved to be treasured and protected, not used to vent your anger which you had against their mother," he said.

He sentenced Milford to 15 years' jail with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

Sensible Sentencing Trust president Garth McVicar said the sentence reflected the severity of the crime and would allow the children to grow up knowing they were safe from their father for at least 10 years

The Dominion Post