Judge: Boy's excruciating pain and distress ignored

Parents jailed in a child-neglect case described as "close to the worst of its kind" may also face charges for falsifying their 10-week-old baby's birth certificate to make him seem their own.

In sentencing Kalifa Maulolo, 44, and his wife Tepatasi, 35, on a charge of wilfully neglecting the boy, Judge Tony Adeane said there was a "powerful probability" that one of them had also inflicted the wounds that resulted in multiple broken bones.

The boy would have been in excruciating pain, and his distress would have been "manifestly apparent to anybody exercising a modicum of diligence", the judge said.

In the Napier District Court yesterday, Kalifa Maulolo was sentenced to three years' jail. His wife was sentenced to two years and four months. Name suppression for both was lifted.

During the couple's three-day jury trial in January, Tepatasi confessed they were not the boy's parents and that his birth certificate had been falsified.

Judge Adeane said the boy was the unwanted child of an acquaintance or family member, and the pair obtained custody unlawfully.

In lying to obtain the birth certificate, the couple had "bypassed various protections that the Adoption Act provides for", including the issuing of a placement certificate and the involvement of a social worker. This was an aggravating factor in the neglect, Judge Adeane said.

Jeff Montgomery, the Department of Internal Affairs' registrar-general of birth, deaths and marriages, said yesterday the department was investigating and would be referring the matter to police.

Making a false statement under the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Act 1995 carries a maximum penalty of five years' prison.

Judge Adeane described the offending as "close to the worst of its kind". No-one had been charged for causing the injuries but, given the circumstances, "there's a powerful probability that one of you caused them, and that the other knew of it".

The boy suffered multiple fractures while living with the Maulolos in Lower Hutt. His injuries were not discovered until early April, after the couple moved to Hastings and took him to a doctor for his immunisation shots.

X-rays showed fractures to both legs, his pelvis and left big toe.

"His injuries were concealed when they should have been revealed. That's the essence of the charge against you".

The boy and his older sister have been in Child, Youth and Family care since April 2011.

The judge said Kalifa Maulolo, despite having an interpreter throughout the case, had lived in New Zealand continuously since he was 5.

"He has many previous convictions suggesting alcohol abuse, including repeated violence offences for which he has been imprisoned."

Both wanted to re-establish their family and were in "complete denial" of their offending, which happened between the boy's birth on January 26, 2011, until March 25.

The Dominion Post