Coroner blames Chris Kahui for twins' deaths
KIRSTY JOHNSTON, LANE NICHOLS AND MICHAEL FORBES
The mother of the dead Kahui twins says she is ''very happy'' with a coroner's finding that the boys died while in the sole care of their father, Chris Kahui.
A landmark report from coroner Garry Evans implies that Chris Kahui killed his twin babies and then lied under oath to cover his actions.
It is at odds with Chris Kahui's 2008 acquittal for the murder of his sons Chris and Cru, and raises an "interesting debate" about the meaning of a not guilty verdict and defendants' right to silence at trial, Evans' boss, chief coroner Neil MacLean, says.
The lawyer for Macsyna King, the twins' mother, said today her client felt the coroner's findings ''have completely exonerated her''.
''Macsyna is very happy with the findings,'' Marie Dyhrberg said. ''They found that she did not injure her twin boys.
''She spent years being hated. But she had to sit quietly until the inquest was over. Now she can say publicly, 'I didn't do it'.''
Dyhrberg said that in the media, talkback radio and magazines, Macsyna King had in effect been found
''People said the most dreadful things about her, based on no evidence.''
THE FINDINGS: INJURIES HAPPENED IN FATHER'S CARE
The coroner found Chris Kahui had sole custody and care of the twins during the afternoon and evening of Monday June 12, including a period of at least three minutes when he entered their room alone while others in the house were outside smoking.
"The [coroners] court is satisfied . . . that the traumatic brain injuries suffered by Chris and Cru Kahui were incurred by them . . . whilst they were in the sole custody, care and control of their father," he says.
His report also says: "The fact that there was a mixture of both old and fresh injuries affecting the twins is deeply disturbing and shows that the household environment in which they were being brought up was unsafe."
The babies had been left alone with Chris Kahui, 21, by their mother, Macsyna King, on June 12, 2006, when she went to see her sister.
At Chris Kahui's trial, it was suggested that Macsyna King could have been the one who injured the twins, but Evans concludes there is not "a skerrick of evidence" implicating her.
"Apart from being completely without evidential support, the theory is implausible," he says.
He is critical of the way Chris Kahui conducted himself during the resulting police and coronial investigations, saying he formed a poor view of his credibility.
"The statements made by him to police that he had continued to feed the twins after the departures of his partner . . . were untrue, and untrue to his knowledge," Evans says.
"The court finds it likely that the false account given by Mr Kahui was to protect himself by representing that the twins remained well whilst in his hands."
While Chris Kahui was required by law to give evidence at the coroner's inquest, he was not required to give evidence at his trial, and did not.
Judge MacLean pointed to that as a reason for the contradictory outcomes. "He [Evans] had an advantage the criminal court didn't have - that Chris Kahui actually gave evidence."
The findings were due to be made public before Christmas, but Chris Kahui took legal action to force alterations. He dropped that challenge earlier this week.
His lawyer, Lorraine Smith, said yesterday that Chris Kahui still "strongly disputes and is most dissatisfied with the outcome of the inquest".
He drew attention to a paragraph in Evans' report that said: "Questions relating to criminal responsibility have already been tried out and disposed of . . . the question of how the twins came to meet their deaths is quite different to the question of whether Chris Kahui bears any responsibility in terms of the criminal law for their deaths."
'HE DID IT': FINDING HAS WORLDWIDE IMPLICATIONS
The findings would be looked at with great interest by coroners all over the world, Judge MacLean said.
"Implicit in this is a very serious allegation - 'he did it'."
But despite the damning findings, it is unlikely Chris Kahui will ever be tried again for the twins' murders because of the protection he gets from "double jeopardy" laws.
RECOMMENDATIONS TO TACKLE CHILD ABUSE
In his 77-page report released today, Evans is also scathing of the level of child abuse in New Zealand.
He recommends law changes to force health professionals to report suspected cases, removing fears around the Privacy Act that sometimes result in deaths.
Setting up child protection teams inside all district health boards would also identify at-risk children and lead to greater intervention, he says.
"It is little wonder that [health] providers err on the side of caution unless required to disclose by statute. If we expect their assistance, then clear requirements are needed, rather than a maze of discretion."
NO SMOKING GUN, NO RETRIAL
Despite the damning findings from Evans, Chris Kahui cannot be tried for murder again unless compelling new evidence is uncovered.
Auckland University law professor Warren Brookbanks said it would probably take a confession from Chris Kahui, as there was no "smoking gun" evidence to prove who killed the twins.
But perjury charges were a real possibility if police chose to investigate whether Chris Kahui lied under oath, he said.
Chris Kahui now lives with his partner, Marcia Ngapera-Kahui, with whom he has a daughter, aged 3. He is allowed to live with the girl but is never allowed to be alone with her. He and Ngapera-Kahui met at the Faith Family Baptist Centre.
POLICE STILL CONSIDERING EVIDENCE
Police said they were considering the evidence heard during the inquest and would not decide on a course of action until it had been fully analysed.
Superintendent John Tims said police acknowledged the findings and emphasised police "thoroughly investigated" the deaths before presenting all they evidence they had available to the court.
"The death of the Kahui twins is yet another tragic reminder of the need for everyone in our communities to play their part in ensuring the safety and welfare of our young and vulnerable people," Tims said.
THE MAIN PLAYERS IN THE TRAGEDY
Last year the 35-year-old, who has had six children, including the twins, reignited controversy around her role with a book, Breaking Silence: The Kahui Case, written by journalist Ian Wishart. Several book chains refused to stock it.
Macsyna King now lives in Gisborne.
In the book, she denied claims, made in the trial, that she had sex with Chris' father, William Banjo Kahui. She said Chris killed the babies: "Did I see the warning sign in him? Or did I see the signs that something was amiss? No, I didn't. Even now I'm struggling to see where I missed something."
Almost as quietly spoken as his son, Banjo was at the High Court murder trial every day, wearing the same blue suit given to him by police.
At the time the twins were born, 11 people were living in his Clendon house - himself, Chris Kahui, Macsyna, their son Shane, Banjo's daughter Mona, her partner Stuart King and their daughter Cyene, Banjo's younger children Eva, Elvis and William, and a nephew.
Banjo slept on a mattress on the floor of the lounge.
Younger sister of Chris and the partner of Macsyna King's half-brother, Stuart King. Their daughter, Cyene, was born one month before the twins.
At the time of the twins' deaths, Mona was attending a South Auckland school for teenage mothers to gain an educational qualification.
Cyene, as well as toddler Shane, was taken into CYF custody immediately after the twins' deaths and Mona was told she would not get Cyene back until someone confessed to the murders.
Half-brother to Macsyna, though they did not meet until they were adults.
He was the only person in the King-Kahui household with a job. Because his work as a labourer was weather-dependent, he was often home during the day and was left to care for his daughter, Cyene, as well as the twins.
But most of his time was spent in his bedroom playing his newly acquired PlayStation.
He made a point of staying out of Macsyna's business and did not interfere with her parenting.
He gave the court an unflattering description of his sister, saying: "She's outspoken, she can moan and swear like nobody's business; she'll just go and go and go."
Mona alleges Stuart "knows something" about what happened on the night of the twins' deaths, but says she has been threatened with a "bullet in the street" if he talks.
CHRIS AND CRU KAHUI
The two boys, born 10 weeks premature, died in June 2006.
They were buried together with Mona Hetaraka, their father's grandmother, who died in 1986, in a family plot at Mangere Cemetery. Although plastic flowers decorate the grave, a spider's web hangs over the babies' marker.
"The court is satisfied, on all the evidence before it, to the required standard of proof, that the traumatic brain injuries suffered by Chris and Cru Kahui were incurred by them during the afternoon/early evening of 12 June 2006, whilst they were in the sole custody, care and control of their father at 22 Courtenay Crescent, Mangere, Auckland." - Coroner Garry Evans
"The twins were in every respect normal and well during the morning of Monday, 12 June. They had not then sustained the serious injuries that led to their deaths." - Coroner
"Different stories have been given by Chris Kahui on different occasions to different persons concerning the subsequent feeding or non-feeding of the twins. The court found his evidence seriously conflicting in nature, lacking in credibility and not to be relied upon." - Coroner
"The evidence given by Mr Kahui at the inquest hearing . . . was significantly different to the evidence he gave to the police, contained in the transcripts of his three police interviews." - Coroner
"[Mona Kahui] then saw that Cru's face was starting to turn pale; his eyes started to roll back and his lips started to go purple . . . she realised that Cru had stopped breathing." - Coroner
"Well, then you should have been here. Why the hell, then you should have been here taking care of the kids." - Chris Kahui to Macsyna King, when she arrived home to find her babies bruised and ill.
"The fact that there was a mixture of both old and fresh injuries affecting the twins is deeply disturbing and shows that the household environment in which they were being brought up was unsafe." - Coroner
"There is not a scintilla of evidence to support the proposition that the twins' fatal injuries were inflicted not during the afternoon/evening of 12 June but at the hands of Macsyna King on Tuesday morning." - Coroner
"There is not a skerrick of evidence that Ms King was at 22 Courtenay Crescent between 7.00-7.20pm on 12 June (or, indeed, at any time during that evening), let alone that she had a motive to kill her own children and did so. Apart from being completely without evidential support, the theory is implausible." - Coroner
"The evidence given by Chris Kahui was unreliable, conflicting and, on many occasions, untrue. The court formed a poor view of his credibility." - Coroner
"The court finds it likely that the false account given by Mr Kahui was to protect himself by representing that the twins remained well whilst in his hands." - Coroner
- © Fairfax NZ News