6 May 2011

Neighbour of slain baby 'too scared' to speak out

4:35 am on 6 May 2011

The neighbour of a baby who died of brain injuries in Ngaruawahia says she knew there was violence going on next door, but was too scared to do anything about it.

Serenity Scott-Dinnington, aged six months, died last week in Starship Hospital after her life support was turned off.

Police say the baby had suffered traumatic injuries and have started a homicide investigation.

The neighbour, who wants to be known only as Cheree, organised a meeting in the town on Thursday because she wants people to break the cycle of violence and speak out about child abuse.

About 100 people attended the hui which opened with a karakia and a song written in memory of Serenity.

The media were then asked to leave to allow for a frank and open discussion.

Cheree told the hui that something had to be done to end family violence and to ensure a similar incident never happens again.

Later, she told Checkpoint she had made a statement to police about the violence she believes was happening, but felt she could not do anything at the time.

"I was very intimidated and I didn't know who to go to for help or what to say to people ... I believe a lot of people can be like that in our communities - they don't know who to turn to or who to get help from."

Cheree says her house was tagged with the word 'nark' after she spoke out.