'Neglected' children treated for eczema

Last updated 05:00 12/01/2013

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Three young malnourished children, allegedly neglected by their parents, are in hospital, being treated for rampant eczema.

Their parents had been drinking and partying at their Lower Hutt home for two days before residents of the street phoned police, who discovered the children living in dire conditions last Friday.

The children were often seen out on the street unsupervised and residents were concerned they could be hit by a car or drown in a nearby river.

Police found nine children at the home, which was stocked with little food. Four of the children who lived there had been sleeping rough on a mattress in the lounge.

They were allegedly malnourished and suffering from poor hygiene, police said.

Child, Youth and Family has confirmed it had had dealings with the family previously.

Yesterday a spokesman confirmed the agency had temporary custody of six children and was "completing a safety assessment" of three others.

Police confirmed yesterday that three children - aged 2, 3 and 4 - were being treated in hospital for serious eczema. A fourth child, aged 7 months, had been assessed, but was not admitted. Their mother, 22, and father, 25, were arrested on Thursday and charged with the neglect of their four children.

The pair, who are in a de facto relationship, were granted interim name suppression when they appeared in the Lower Hutt District Court yesterday.

They were remanded in custody by consent to appear again next week.

Detective Sergeant Emma Foote said more people could face charges in connection with the incident.

Yesterday, she visited the children in hospital. They were happy and getting the care they needed.

Outside court, the mother of the accused father said the couple were trying to get their lives sorted out.

"They have been trying really hard to get things together, but the system is just not letting them have the chance. They are only young kids and they are trying to do their best.

"They have been looking after them really well, going to the doctors and all that."

She was surprised to hear they had been arrested for neglect.

It is understood the family moved into the three-bedroom rental home about a week before Christmas. It was unfurnished.

The brother of the accused father said the young family were expecting their furniture to be delivered this week.

"There is nothing wrong with them at all. They just got caught at a bad time."

A 38-year-old resident of the street said she watched the family arrive and saw only a mattress, a washing machine and a fridge taken into the home.

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There had been a lot of drinking and partying at the home and she believed there were too many people living there.

She was also concerned that children were often locked in the car outside the home for 15 to 20 minutes, sometimes in hot conditions, while people argued inside the home.

"[It's] alarming, because they were stuck in the car and they were often crying."

The woman called police last Friday because a number of adults were drinking outside the house and paying little attention to the children, who were crossing the road and playing next to a nearby stream.

She feared one could be killed by a car or drown.

"The adults were oblivious to the kids - neglecting them."

The parents had been drinking and partying constantly in the 48 hours before police were called, she said.

Shortly before police arrived and arrested three people at the home, the resident said she watched a woman drive from the property with unrestrained children in the car.

Police said yesterday that a woman was charged with drink-driving the same night.

Grant Valli, a resident who lived nearby, said he was not surprised to hear the parents of the children had been charged with neglect.

"It was almost like a creche. The amount of kids that were in there was unbelievable."

- The Dominion Post

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