Abused child hung on line, put in dryer
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Police have not ruled out the possibility other people may be involved in the horrific beating of a three-year-old Rotorua girl which they say began two or three weeks ago.
The child is in a serious but stable condition in Auckland's Starship Hospital tonight. She has a serious head injury and abdominal injuries and is in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit.
So far four people, none of whom are the child's parents, have been arrested in connection with her three-week ordeal-- three men aged 21, 19 and 17 and a 17-year-old woman, all Rotorua residents, face joint charges of assault.
Tonight neighbours told 3 News the child was hung on the clothesline and spun around until she flew off.
They said she was put in an ice-cold bath and then in the clothes dryer.
They also said she was used to practice wrestling "like the men on TV".
Police say the girl lay seriously injured for 36 hours before anyone sought medical help for her.
On Sunday morning she was taken to Rotorua Hospital suffering from a head injury and later that night airlifted to Starship.
"Police inquiries to date have revealed that the little girl had been repeatedly assaulted by extended family members for up to three weeks prior to being admitted to the hospital," the head of Rotorua CIB, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper, said today.
"It appears that the assaults intensified over three days at the end of last week and medical treatment sought after at least 36 hours following the last event."
Mr Loper told the Rotorua Daily Post the toddler's mother was at Starship but her father had not been around for several years.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Sergeant Gary Hawkins, told NZPA tonight that the child's condition remained unchanged.
He also suggested other people may have been involved in the beating.
"The investigation isn't finished yet so there may be other persons involved...we don't know," Mr Hawkins said.
"It is an horrific case."
The people charged with her beating have appeared in court.
The 17-year-old man appeared in Auckland District Court today and was released on strict bail conditions.
The other three appeared in Rotorua District Court and were remanded in custody until July 30.
A Child, Youth and Family spokeswoman said tonight that other children living in the Frank Street household were in care and "in a safe, secure environment".
"Child, Youth and Family continue to assist police in any way possible," she said.
The Daily Post reported a Frank Street neighbour as saying she believed two toddlers and an eight-year-old and a 10-year-old were among those who lived at the house.
Mr Loper said police would this week spend time talking to family members as well as organisations linked to the child, including her kohanga reo.