Horrific Nia injuries revealed to court

Last updated 10:03 13/02/2008
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EVIDENCE: A judge has lifted suppression orders on evidence over injuries suffered by toddler Nia Glassie. Two people are charged with murder and three of manslaughter over her death.

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Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie was spun around in a dryer on hot until blood poured from her nose, according to two child witnesses.

The children's evidence was given during a depositions hearing in Rotorua District Court in December but was subject to a suppression order until yesterday.

Justice Pamela Andrews lifted the order after an appeal by Michael Curtis' lawyer, Jonathan Temm, to keep the evidence from being published failed.

Three-year-old Nia died in Auckland's Starship Hospital on August 3 last year after suffering injuries at a Frank St, Rotorua, house where she was living.

Brothers Michael Curtis, 21, and Wiremu Curtis, 17, are accused of her murder. Their cousin Michael Pearson, 19, Michael Curtis' girlfriend, Oriwa Kemp, 17, and Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 34, are accused of manslaughter.

One child witness described in her evidence how Nia was put on the clothes line and spun around fast until she fell off.

Nia was repeatedly kicked by the Curtis brothers.

The witness and another older child witness, who both can't be identified because they are under 17, made statements about Nia's abuse in video evidence.

The witnesses said they saw the Curtis brothers, Pearson and Kemp abuse Nia between July 18-20.

Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 34, is charged with manslaughter by failing to provide medical treatment.

The court heard Kuka worked long hours in the kiwifruit industry and Nia was left in the care of the accused – all of whom except Pearson lived at the Frank St house.

The younger witness described Nia as looking like she was asleep but she still had one eye open.

She said the kicking incident happened on July 20 when Nia's mother was away dropping a car off.

"They kicked her. . .in her head. She started to fall asleep. . .then they took her to bed and her arm was shaking."

The witnesses said they saw all the accused, except Kuka, put the toddler in a clothes' dryer and turn it on hot. They said it was Pearson's idea.

"They put her in the dryer and they turn it on and she goes around and blood comes out. . .her head gets hot and she starts to bleed [from her nose]."

Other alleged abuse included Nia being stripped naked and "rubbed" in the sandpit, given cold baths and dressed in dirty and "wet" clothes, kicked in the nose making it bleed and pushed on her tricycle until she hit a wooden box.

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The witnesses said the abuse included carrying out wrestling moves – including jumping on Nia's head and stomach, sitting on her head, body slamming her on the couch and squeezing her neck while holding her up and then slamming her on the couch.

"[She would have] bumps on her head like balls. They go into bruises. She says her head is sore," the younger witness said.

That witness said the worst act of abuse was when Michael Curtis lifted Nia until she touched the ceiling and then dropped her on the ground.

 

- NZPA

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