26 Mar 2013

CYF caregivers sentenced over toddler's treatment

9:20 pm on 26 March 2013

A caregiver from Edgecumbe in Eastern Bay of Plenty has been sentenced to nine months' home detention for treatment of a child that included putting the two-year-old under a cold shower as punishment.

Eunice Towns, 42, was also sentenced in the Tauranga District Court on Tuesday to 180 hours' community work for wounding with reckless disregard and assault.

Her husband, Stephen Towns, was sentenced to 300 hours' community work and nine months' intensive supervision for assault and ordered to pay $1000 in reparation to the victim.

In May last year the toddler, who had been in the Towns' care along with two other children for about a month, was taken to Whakatane Hospital with life-threatening hypothermia and at least 73 bruises.

The summary of facts says Mrs Towns had placed the child under a cold shower for between 10 and 15 minutes as a form of discipline.

It also says Mr Towns used levels of force sufficient to cause bruising when reacting to the child's behaviour.

Both the Towns were approved Child, Youth and Family caregivers.

Eunice Towns' lawyer told the court his client realised she wasn't coping very shortly after being given the children and told CYF six times to come and get them.

In sentencing, Judge Louis Bidois said if that was the case, then some serious steps need to be taken to address the issue because that would be clear omissions by CYF.

The department said later on Tuesday the claim was not true, saying the Towns never indicated they were experiencing significant problems in caring for the children.

It says the two-year-old is now being looked after by wider family and appears to have recovered well.