18 Nov 2008

Glassie judge breaks down after verdicts read out

8:36 pm on 18 November 2008

The judge presiding over the Nia Glassie murder trial could not contain her emotion after the verdicts were read out on Tuesday afternoon.

A jury in the High Court at Rotorua found brothers Wiremu and Michael Curtis guilty of murder by inflicting the toddler's fatal head injuries in July last year.

Upon dismissing the jury, Justice Potter thanked jury members profusely before starting to cry.

As the verdicts were read out both Curtis brothers had to be held up by prison guards as their feet went from under them.

Eleven jurors retired on Monday afternoon to consider 22 charges against five people for their part in the death of three-year-old Nia. It took the jury nearly 11 hours to reach its verdicts.

Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, was found guilty on two counts of manslaughter for failing to provide the necessaries of life and for not protecting her from violence.

Michael Pearson and Orewa Kemp were found not guilty of manslaughter but guilty of child cruelty - as were the Curtis brothers.

Ms Kuka's lawyer, Panama Le'au'anae, says she will have to live with her mistakes for the rest of her life.

Mr Le'au'anae says his client's choice of partner - Wiremu Curtis - was her, and ultimately Nia's, downfall.

Mr Le'au'anae is not ruling out an appeal by Ms Kuka.

Children's Commissioner Cindy Kiro says justice has been done in the case.

Ms Kiro says that in many serious cases of child abuse, families close ranks and deny the harm.