Child cruelty trial hears of squalor

Last updated 13:50 09/08/2012

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Eight children were living in a filthy and cluttered Porirua house when social workers removed them, a police officer says.

Constable Justin Whitehead was giving evidence in the High Court at Wellington today where the children's parents are on trial facing cruelty and other charges.

Two of the parents' friends were also charged.

The number of accused reduced to three today with the judge's decision that the trial should not continue against a 39-year-old man who had been charged with having unlawful sexual connection with a girl and twice doing an indecent act on her.

Yesterday the girl, now 13, admitted that she made up the allegations.

She was the oldest of eight children taken from their parents' home in Porirua in March 2010. The mother, 42, and father, 55, are charged with cruelty and sex offences. A third man, 56, known to the children as an "uncle" is charged with sex offences and an assault. The father is also charged with assaults.

The names of the accused are suppressed.

Whitehead said he and other police went with Child Youth and Family staff to collect the children. The house was filthy, mess everywhere, and clothes and toys were in piles.

"It was a bit of a mission getting into the house, we were dodging all sorts of stuff."

On the way to the back door they passed a "scungy and malnourished" dog that was tied up.

Even in early autumn the house seemed very cold, he said.

In a downstairs room an infant was in a flea-infested cot. Whitehead said he did not know what the fleas were at first so had a good look.

"Not a very nice sight but we got the baby out of there."

The older children seemed in fairly good spirits and seemed "quite happy" to see the police and social workers, he said.

The trial is continuing.

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- The Dominion Post

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