2 Jun 2011

Former CYF caregivers charged with abuse

9:53 pm on 2 June 2011

Two former foster parents and their daughter are facing dozens of charges of abuse relating to four boys in their care.

Wellsford couple Andrew John and Jenny-Lee Hemara and their daughter, Tamara Hemara, appeared in the North Shore District Court on 20 May. They face a total of 38 charges relating to four boys who were living with them.

Court documents show the charges include chaining two boys together and making two run around a racetrack until they vomited.

Child, Youth and Family removed six boys from the Hemaras' care after one of the boys spoke to a social worker last year.

According to CYF northern regional director Grant Bennett, the four children to whom the charges relate lived with the couple between 2004 and 2010.

Mr Bennett says it is immensely disappointing when people entrusted to care for vulnerable young people are accused of abusing them. The couple had been approved caregivers since 2001. Their caregiver status has been revoked.

The three defendants have been released on bail until their next court appearances later this month.

'Unfair exposure' - support agency

The main agency that supports foster families is appalled at the publicity over the Hemaras' prosecution. They did not get name suppression and have been widely identified in the media, with their photos on the front page of the New Zealand Herald.

Iris Clanachan, who heads up the Family and Foster Care Federation, blames recent changes to legal aid which prevent people choosing their own lawyer in less serious cases. She says this means foster families are getting worse legal representation.