Woman jailed for silence on daughter being raped

Last updated 10:50 30/11/2013

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In what is believed to be the first case prosecuted under new child abuse laws, a Palmerston North mother who knew her daughter was being raped by her partner but did nothing has been sent to prison.

In the Palmerston North District Court yesterday Judith Noeline Annette Burnett, 34, became the first person sentenced since a 2012 law change brought in to punish those who stay silent about child abuse.

The new law was introduced following public outrage at the death of Auckland babies Chris and Cru Kahui, and their family's refusal to cooperate with police investigating their murders.

In an unusual move, Judge Barbara Morris refused Burnett name suppression because the child wanted her mother's name published.

Judge Morris said the sentence of two years and one months' jail on the mother of four for failure to protect a child from the risk of sexual assault, was both a "denunciation and a deterrence".

"The courts must give a clear message to the community that parents who expose their kids to a risk of sexual abuse can expect a sentence that matches society's utter condemnation of this conduct."

Judge Morris reduced the sentence, which carries a maximum of 10 years' jail, because Burnett had no previous convictions, had pleaded guilty and had shown signs of remorse. Fairfax NZ

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