14 Oct 2009

Public welcome at funeral for Aisling Symes

7:27 pm on 14 October 2009

Auckland toddler Aisling Symes is to be farewelled at a funeral on Friday that will be open to the public.

The two-year-old's body was found in a stormwater drain on Longburn Road in Henderson on Monday night. She had been missing for a week.

A police spokesperson says the girl's parents, Angela and Alan Symes, want to acknowledge the support they have received from people, many of them strangers.

The spokesperson says the family knows many people are sharing their loss and they will be welcome at the funeral.

However, mourners are asked to respect the family's privacy and grief.

The service will be held at Ranui Baptist Church, before a private cremation.

The Symes family say they are continuing to receive messages of support and sympathy.

Acting Chief Coroner Gary Evans has opened an inquiry into the girl's death.

Meanwhile, police have located an Asian woman seen talking to the toddler shortly after her disappearance.

Police say the woman was unable to help them and will not release any details about the discussion with her.

Council could be prosecuted - lawyer

A lawyer specialising in commercial litigation says the Waitakere City Council could be prosecuted over the girl's death.

Residents on Longburn Road say they have made numerous complaints about the drain in the past. Flooding would sometimes cause a 20kg manhole cover to come off.

Lawyer Tim Rainey says the Department of Labour may choose to prosecute if the council is found to have been negligent.

Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey has ordered an inquiry into the council's response to complaints about the drain.

Prime Minister John Key supports that, but is not ruling out a Government inquiry.