June 29 2017, updated 11:31am

Coral did not die for nothing - father

Last updated 00:00 26/10/2007
LASTING IMPACT: The father of Coral Ellen Burrows says every time the is an inquest surrounding her death it brings the problem of child abuse back into the spotlight.

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The father of murdered Wairarapa school girl Coral Ellen Burrows says it is vital to keep the issue of child abuse in the public eye.

The Wellington Coroner's Court today heard evidence in the inquest into the death of the six-year-old, whose bashed body was found on the shores of Wairarapa's Lake Ferry in September 2003, 10 days after she was reported missing.

Her stepfather Steven Williams later admitted to beating the little girl to death after she had refused to get out of his car to go to school.

After the hearing finished today, Coral's father Ron Burrows told NZPA every time there was an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding her death it brought the spotlight back on to child abuse.

He said each time a child was attacked he would like to see coverage of the event so people would be aware of the magnitude of the problem.

"What about if all New Zealanders say 'We've had enough'."

He said the attention he had tried to bring to his daughter's case had helped numerous other children in the country.

"To me it means my baby didn't die for nothing.

"It makes me proud of my baby," Mr Burrows said.

The court today heard how Child Youth and Family (CYF) failed to follow up on concerns by Mr Burrows about the safety his daughter.

CYF national call centre manager Greg Versalko told the court Mr Burrows contacted the agency in January 2003 expressing concern about the wellbeing of Coral and her brother Storm, who were living with their mother and Williams just out of Featherston.

Mr Versalko said the telephone call was not recorded and there was no investigation by CYF workers into Mr Burrows' concerns.

Following an inquiry into CYF practices, after Coral's death, all telephone calls are now recorded and kept for 17 years.

The court was also told that human error meant Coral's absence from school wasn't immediately followed up with her mother.

South Featherston School principal Tracy Smith told Coroner Garry Evans that Coral's teacher had marked her absent on the wrong day in the school register, which meant no one was aware she was missing until the end of the school day.

Mr Evans reserved his findings.


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