The decision is the final chapter in a horror story that has reverberated around New Zealand, with many calling for definitive action on child abuse.
Moko Rangitoheriri has been described as a “little boy with a big smile” by The New Zealand Herald. However, his final days were anything but happy.
Last June, Moko’s mother Nicola Delly-Paki travelled to Auckland as one of her children was unwell and needed treatment at New Zealand’s specialist children’s facility Starship Hospital.
Her younger children were unable to stay at Starship, so she left Moko and his sister in the care of Tania Shailer, who she had met when she was 16 and who had children of her own.
However, court documents suggest that Shailer and her partner, David Haerewa, took a dislike to Moko.
In the final two weeks of Moko’s life, Shailer stopped answering Dally-Paki’s phone calls – a sign she now says she “should have picked up on”.
According to The New Zealand Herald, a police statement of facts says: “Both [Shailer and Haerewa] began to assault Moko. The degree of severity of the assaults escalated, with each encouraging and supporting the other in their behaviour.”
Moko died on August 10.
The full details of his abuse are horrific.
However, it’s understood that Shailer and Haerewa stomped on Moko’s stomach causing internal injuries, bit his face so hard it bleed and was picked up on dropped face-first on the floor, sometimes repeatedly.
He was starved, and casually left to die alone in his room for several days before Shailer called emergency services.
However, it was too late and the boy died.
Tragically, Moko’s seven-year-old sister tried in vain to help her brother, but was punished each time – and forced to join in the abuse.
Yesterday Shailer and Haerewa were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to 17 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of nine years, according to Stuff.co.nz.
It is the longest sentence ever imposed in New Zealand for the manslaughter of a child.
If you need to talk to someone about child abuse, please visit kidshelpline.com.au or phone 1800 99 10 99.
In case of an emergency, always call 000.