Partner of shooting victim slates CYF
Kerry Lock says he feels badly let down by Child, Youth and Family and the organisation admits its support was not what it should have been.
Mr Lock has been left wondering whether or not his partner, Rose Kurth, 50, would be alive today had the support been better.
Ms Kurth died in April, shot by teenager Jordan Nelson, who this week was sentenced to 18 years in jail.
Jordan lived with Ms Kurth and Mr Lock at Okoki.
CYF, who approved of Jordan Nelson living with the man he thought of as his granddad, acknowledged mistakes but said the 13-year-old was never rated a risk.
Jordan was sentenced in the High Court in New Plymouth on Thursday after admitting shooting Ms Kurth in the back of the head.
Speaking to the Taranaki Daily News yesterday from the Okoki home where the shooting happened, Mr Lock said CYF had promised Jordan support and counselling - but it did not happen.
Jordan had spent most of his life in the care of Mr Lock, and moved to be with him and Ms Kurth after a CYF family group conference in Napier in September 2011.
Mr Lock says CYF did not tell him of the trouble Jordan and his older brother had been in with police in Napier nor of the family violence he had suffered. They also failed to tell Waitara High School of his background.
He condemned a report he received from CYF as a "whitewash".
CYF's acting general manager of residential and high needs services, Nova Salomen, responded yesterday saying: "Nothing in Jordan's history suggested he was at risk of committing such violence.
"He made a conscious decision to do what he did on 16 April, 2012," she said.
However, she said CYF had reviewed their social work practice in relation to Jordan and had since discussed their findings with Mr Lock.
"It is clear that Child, Youth and Family staff should have communicated more effectively with Mr Lock, and with Jordan's school," she said.
The problem was compounded by a delay in transferring Jordan's case from Napier to New Plymouth.
"It is correct that New Plymouth staff were not informed that Jordan was living with Mr Lock.
"Jordan's case was still with Napier staff and he had a social worker assigned there.
"All staff in Napier and New Plymouth have since been formally briefed about the requirement to follow the transfer policy."
The family group conference plan talked about support being provided, but made no specific reference to counselling, she said.
"Having said that, we have acknowledged that our support was not what it should have been. We had no information indicating that things were not going well with Jordan."
Ms Salomen said CYF would not respond to questions regarding what happened to Jordan in Napier as it would breach the privacy of family members.
Ms Salomen said it would appear that a lot of faith was placed in the fact that Mr Lock had been Jordan's primary caregiver for most of his life and was doing a great job as a father figure.
She added that it was a tragic case and CYF would be in contact with Mr Lock in the new year when they would endeavour to answer all his questions.
Justice Heath's decision not to sentence Jordan to life imprisonment has upset Ms Kurth's family who are calling for the Crown to appeal the ruling.
The Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich had called for life imprisonment for what he said was a premeditated killing of a vulnerable woman.
Mr Marinovich said a decision was yet to be made on any appeal.
During sentencing Nelson's lawyer, Patrick Mooney had urged Justice Heath not to sentence Nelson to life imprisonment, saying it was manifestly unjust for a child of his "extreme youth".
He had told police he didn't know why he put the rifle in his room.
"There is another possibility that Jordan had been contemplating using it to take his own life."
When he was suspended from school he said: "I thought of shooting myself but decided not to because it wasn't the right thing to do."
There was no way of knowing what thoughts were forming in his young mind that morning, Mr Mooney said.
Mr Lock told the paper he had not been in touch with Jordan since the murder and did not want to do so.
In court, Mr Mooney said he had a letter to Mr Lock from Jordan.
The shooting was a shattering experience for Jordan.
"As soon as he realised what he had done he got into Rose's car and drove to alert Waitara police," Mr Mooney said.
When police pulled him over one of the first things he said to police was to ask for a phone so he could apologise for what he had done to his grandfather.
"Jordan does understand the pain he has caused and knows he has done something very, very wrong."
Mr Lock told the paper yesterday he now wants to move away from Okoki, find a job and begin again.
■ Justice Heath's full sentencing notes are available on the Ministry of Justice website.
Taranaki Daily News