Washing machine tragedy: New details around child's death

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 3:58PM
Police were called to the Christchurch property about 5pm Friday. Photo / File
Police were called to the Christchurch property about 5pm Friday. Photo / File

Washing machine tragedy: New details around child's death

Author
Anna Leask, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Thu, 25 Feb 2021, 3:58PM

More details have emerged about the death of a Christchurch toddler in a washing machine last week - but the child's name and other information have been suppressed by a Coroner to protect the family.

The fatal incident happened on Friday evening at a house in Hoon Hay.

Police are investigating and are yet to determine whether there are any suspicious circumstances or if the death was a tragic accident.

The Coroner's office last night ruled that the name of the dead child cannot be published.

The suppression order was made to protect the privacy of the child's family - and the integrity of the police investigation and any potential court process in future.

The Herald cannot publish anything that would lead to the child being identified.

Police were called to the house on Friday just before 5pm.

Coroner Anna Tutton explained in her ruling that the toddler was at home with family including siblings.

"(The child's) father noticed that he had not seen ( the child) playing with the other children for approximately 10 minutes," she said.

"Efforts were made to locate (the child) (who) was found inside the family washing machine.

"Attempts were made to resuscitate (the toddler) (who) was taken to hospital."

The child died in hospital on Saturday.

Police reported the death to the duty Coroner initially advising they were treating the death as suspicious.

A post mortem examination was carried out and a Coronial inquiry is now underway.

"The police investigation into (the toddler's) death is at a very early stage," said Coroner Tutton last night.

"The investigation will include consideration and determination as to whether the death was suspicious or accidental."

She said the little child's family did not want the name to be published.

"They are concerned that they will be subjected to online harassment should (the) name be reported in the media," the Coroner explained.

"Any speculation in relation to (the) death that might result from publication
of (the) name has the potential to cause damage to (the family)."

Coroner Tutton said she was mindful of the principals of open justice but needed to protect the justice process.

"I have also taken into account the possibility that, if (any person) is charged
in relation to (the) death, he or she may wish to seek name suppression," she said.

"Such an application may be rendered nugatory should (the child's) name have been published already.

"In addition, I have considered the fact that it appears that (the child's) siblings were (there) at, or shortly before, the time (the child) got into the washing machine.

"Their involvement, if any, is completely unknown at this point.

"Publication of (the) name may expose them to online speculation and abuse ... any such speculation and criticism of them raises particular issues for their welfare and wellbeing."

Coroner Tutton made an interim order suppressing the name of the child and any other information that may lead to the identification.