News

Parents abused girl, thought she was a witch

TWO parents who abused their teenage daughter by forcing her to take freezing baths, hitting her and cutting her hair because they thought she was a witch have been jailed.

The Congolese refugees were both found guilty by a jury in Auckland yesterday of several charges relating to almost four years of abuse.

After being convicted, the duo told court workers they were innocent because they were performing witchcraft on the then 15-year-old girl because they believed she was possessed.

The girl's mother, now 33, arrived from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in central Africa in 2007 and put down roots in a North Island town. She met her husband, now 40, a few years later and in 2012 they moved to Auckland with the woman's teenager daughter and the three children the couple had together.

At the Auckland District Court yesterday, the jury heard how the abuse began in 2010 and continued until June 2014.

Over this time, the man would hit his step-daughter until she got into a very cold bath and forced her to stay in it for long periods while her mother stood by.

"I'm satisfied that she came close to hypothermia at times," Judge Rob Ronayne said. "She stopped counting at about 30 such baths."

The man also forcibly cut the girl's hair and told the woman to braid what was left to hide the bald patches.

"She described all of her hair being cut off, I accept that that did not literally happen. But in my view, it was a young girl's perception of your cruel and degrading treatment, cutting chunks out of her hair," Judge Ronayne said.

On one occasion, the stepfather grabbed the teenager in a bedroom and held his hand over her mouth and put his hand around her neck until her vision went blurry and she struggled to breathe.

He told her she was garbage and that she would never grow up - the bedroom would be her cemetery.

On another occasion, the couple tied the teen up with an electrical cord and when she loosened the bonds, they were re-tied which caused her pain in her legs and she struggled to walk afterwards.

"[In another incident] in her room where you [stepfather] grabbed her, you pushed her down, hurting her arm. You locked the door with a chair, you pinned her from behind. She mentioned you trying to take her pants off. She fought you and she hit you so hard she hurt her own arm.

"I'm quite satisfied there is an element of indecency in these assaults. They had a sexual theme to them," Judge Ronayne said.

He also trusted the teenager's testimony, saying her victim impact statement revealed someone who was "fortunately a resilient young woman" and that he found her to be a "careful and particular and honest witness in every respect".

When the couple were interviewed by a probation officer after being found guilty of a number of charges relating to the abuse, they said they believed the teenager to be a witch and their behaviour was a common practice in the Congo.

The probation reports said neither defendant showed any remorse, care or accountability for what they had done and recommended prison sentences because the man was at a high risk of reoffending and the woman was a moderate risk.

The woman's lawyer submitted she had a "hard life" as a refugee and was isolated from her family and that she acted because she thought her daughter was possessed.

The judge did not accept this excuse and later called her belief in witchcraft a "fallback".

Before he sentenced the duo, Ronayne said there was a need to denounce this type of abuse of vulnerable children and a "need to bring home" that they were responsible for what took place and to be held accountable for what they'd done.

He told the man: "The reality is that you have an ingrained belief system which you variously use sometimes and deny at other times depending on what suits you in the circumstances. You are not being honest at all."

The man was sentenced to 2 years and three months in prison for jointly intentionally engaging in conduct that would harm the teenager, four months for the male assaults female, nine months for a representative charge of male assaults female and three months for common assault.

The woman was sentenced to one year and nine months for jointly intentionally engaging in conduct that would harm the teenager and three months for common assault.

- NZ Herald

Topics:  abuse, new zealand, witchery


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Graceful Russian ballerinas will perform Swan Lake

ON STAGE: The Russian National Ballet Theatre brings their production of Swan Lake, the full length classical performance.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is coming soon

Baird dogged by fears greyhound ban will cost Nationals seat

Mike Baird may hold off on implementing the greyhound racing ban until 2020 as he tries to woo voters back into the National fold before the Orange by-election.

Could Orange by-election force Baird to delay greyhound racing ban?

Local Partners

Junior golfer makes the most of regional opportunity

Forget the HSC< Murwillumbah school leaver Lucas Higgins has the biggest test of his golfing career on the horizon.

It's time to get your shorts on the big screen

ANIMATED: Citizen To Activist, an animation by David Lowe and Eve Jeffrey, won the Jury Award for best Short Film at Flickerfest 2015 - Byron AllShorts.

Entries for Flickerfest 2017 and Byron All Shorts are now open

These local movies will shine at 10th Byron Film Festival

LOCAL STORIES: One of the films featured this year is The Bentley Effect, a documentary about the Bentley Blockade.

THIS year marks a milestone for the Byron Bay Film Festival

Graceful Russian ballerinas will perform Swan Lake

ON STAGE: The Russian National Ballet Theatre brings their production of Swan Lake, the full length classical performance.

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is coming soon

Baird dogged by fears greyhound ban will cost Nationals seat

Mike Baird may hold off on implementing the greyhound racing ban until 2020 as he tries to woo voters back into the National fold before the Orange by-election.

Could Orange by-election force Baird to delay greyhound racing ban?

Are government staffers talking Wentworth Park sale?

Greyhounds race at the Wentworth Park ahead of the industry's July 2017 shutdown.

No answer on whether government staff discussed Wentworth Parl sale

Justice delayed is justice denied in NSW courts

Court backlogs trigger push for break and enter law change

Communication breakdown in NSW fishing reforms

State-wide commercial fishing industry reforms have left fishers confused about their futures.

Non-English speaking fishers confused at industry-wide reforms

Classic car auction draws buyers from US, Dubai

"He wants everyone to enjoy the cars, the collection got too big'

Bonus point gets Dan and Carleen over the line on The Block

Dan and Carleen in their winning living and dining rooms in a scene from The Block.

BABY boomers win living and dining week as show hits halfway mark.

Olivia Wilde having a girl

Olivia Wilde revealed she is expecting a baby girl.

Michael Palin: Terry Jones dementia is 'painful' to see

Michael Palin has found Terry Jones' decline "painful to watch"

Daniel Radcliffe hoped for haircut anonymity

Radcliffe thought shaving his head would make him more anonymous

Jim Carrey slams 'shameful greed' of lawsuit

Jim Carrey has slammed the "shameful greed" of White's ex-husband.

'Highly unlikely' Brad Pitt will face prosecution

It is highly unlikely that Brad Pitt will be prosecuted

UPDATE: Former rodeo champ's sale rained out, now back on

Larkhill local Ken Consiglio is having an auction of most of the things on his property.

'People kept showing up and we had to turn them away'

Couple build their own 'tiny house' for $45k

Holly Bowen and Oli Bucher built their "tiny house" themselves, only hiring a plumber and an electrician. Photo/supplied

The house, which is built on a trailer and can be towed.

Sunshine Beach property breaks real estate record

The property overlooks Sunshine Beach, as the backyard lawn meets the sand.

Sunshine Beach mansion sale smashes real estate record

SOLD: Historic hotel finds new owner

Post Office Hotel Grafton

Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Pub in new hands and heading in a brand new direction

Peppers Airlie Beach put on the market

ON THE MARKET: Peppers Airlie Beach is being for recievership sale by CBRE Hotels and PRD Nationwide Airlie Beach.

Peppers Airlie Beach is being offered for sale.

3500 jobs on the way with new $950 million resort

Residential, tourist, community, and open space on Hummock Hill Island.

PROPERTY developers plan to begin construction next year.