TV show appeal in child abuse case tossed out
A mother found guilty of child abuse says she was disadvantaged during her trial by broadcaster Paul Henry.
The mother, who has name suppression, was found guilty of assaulting her youngest child in early 2015 after unexplained bruises were reported to police.
The Crown alleged the mother and her partner had caused the injuries through the intentional application of force to the child's body and head on numerous occasions. The mother was found guilty of intentionally engaging in conduct that was likely to cause adverse effects to her 2-year-old daughter.
An application made to the Court of Appeal on behalf of the mother was overturned on July 18. Lawyer Nicholas Dutch attempted to argue his client was disadvantaged by seven facets of the case, including a broadcast on the Paul Henry TV Show the morning of her trial.
The following paragraph was read during the broadcast: "The trial begins today for a woman accused of assaulting her 2-year-old child while high on meth. She will appear in the Tauranga District Court as part of four-day trial into the attack which allegedly took place two years ago. The woman is appearing alongside her co-accused boyfriend. The child is being looked after by his father."
The words were accompanied by a methamphetamine pipe with smoke billowing out.
Judges Miller, Lang and Mander said the trial judge dealt with the issue before the jury was selected and asked any from the panel who had seen the footage. Those that had were excused from the jury. He also instructed members not to seek out any media coverage of the trial.
"The broadcast of the news item was obviously unfortunate, particularly given the fact that it occurred on the morning the trial was due to commence," the judges said.
"Nevertheless, we are satisfied the judge dealt with the issue appropriately through his questioning of the jury panel before jury selection commenced and the directions he gave the jury after it had been selected.
"For that reason we do not consider there is any risk that the appellant suffered unfair prejudice as a result of the pre-trial publicity."
Other aspects to the appeal including an argument about text messages, issues with timing for cross-examination and the trial judges' summary were also thrown out.