9 Nov 2010

Caregiver aunt sentenced for abusing children

6:00 pm on 9 November 2010

A caregiver approved by Child, Youth and Family has been sentenced to home detention for assaulting children in her care.

The children's aunt, Tafailagi Su'a, was approved by the agency to look after them after their mother was convicted of abuse.

The mother is serving five years in jail for beating and abusing her three-year-old son.

On Tuesday, Su'a was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on three charges each of smacking and serious assault.

She was given 21 months' home detention after being found guilty of abusing three of the five children placed in her care in 2008. The abuse included smacking, assaulting with a belt and kicking a nine- year-old child in the stomach.

Judge Mary Beth Sharpe said the crime is a double tragedy, considering that the children were uprooted from their family because of similar abuse.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) says it's confident it acted correctly. The family was not known to the agency before the mother was charged, it says, and there was absolutely no reason to believe that the aunt would not be a good caregiver.

Unfortunately, CYF says, a person whom everyone believed would keep the children safe didn't.