22 Jul 2009

Child in cruelty case admits she made allegation up

7:37 pm on 22 July 2009

A 14-year-old girl who said her father let three men assault her in a South Auckland car park in exchange for $40 has told a court she made the whole thing up.

The girl's parents, who will never be named for legal reasons, are charged with 16 offences in September 2007, including sexual conduct with a young person and multiple counts of child cruelty.

The couple are being tried at the High Court in Auckland where some of their eight children are to give evidence. They are aged between eight and 14 and will do so by way of video link to protect their identity.

The 14-year-old girl fled the court earlier on Wednesday when her initial police interview was played to the jury. In it, she alleged her father dropped her off at the McDonald's playground in Manukau while he approached three men who later touched her inappropriately.

The Crown witness later returned, giving evidence via CCTV in a private room and admitted under cross-examination that she had lied.

The girl explained that she made the story up so her father would get in trouble and she would be removed from her family home.

She still claims her parents beat and neglected her and her siblings, often locking them in the roof of their Housing New Zealand home for days on end without food.

Earlier this week, the defence told the jury they are going to hear the children tell them a series of "lies and exaggeration".

The parents have been on bail at a house in South Auckland since their arrest and their children remain in the care of Child, Youth and Family.