14 Nov 2008

Nia's mother 'had caring relationship' - defence

9:02 pm on 14 November 2008

The lawyer for the mother of dead toddler Nia Glassie has described her client as having a loving, caring relationship with her daughter.

The defence submitted its arguments for three people accused of manslaughter after the three-year-old's death in August last year as a result of brain injuries.

Lawyer Panama Le'au'anau said Nia was conscious and talking when her mother Lisa Kuka left the house to go on an errand.

He said the toddler was in bed when her mother got home, probably in a coma.

The first warning Ms Kuka had was when Nia would not wake for a bath at 4am after wetting the bed.

Ms Le'au'anau said that, as for Ms Kuka turning a blind eye to the abuse going on in her home, those words were put in her mouth by an interviewing detective and were taken out of context.

Michael Pearson and Oriwa Kemp also deny manslaughter.

Brothers Wiremu and Michael Curtis deny murder.

Earlier, lawyer Craig Horsley said his client, Wiremu Curtis, was a follower while his brother, Michael Curtis, was a ringleader in the house.

He said Mr Curtis had learning difficulties and the intelligence of a 12 or a 13-year-old, and the wrestling moves on Nia and the spinning of children on a washing line, described in evidence to the court, were led by Mr Curtis.

Mr Horsley described Nia's treatment as horrific and sickening, but he said jurors must put aside feelings of anger, outrage and revenge. He said they could decide his client was guilty of murder only if they could be sure that he kicked Nia in the head on 20 July last year, knowing her death was likely.

He told the jury there was no bruising or forensic evidence to support the Crown's theory that Nia was fatally kicked in the head.