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Lower Hutt children hospitalised, ‘horrific’ family harm injuries discovered, police seek help from public

Melissa Nightingale,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Mar 2024, 4:28PM
Photo / NZ Herald
Photo / NZ Herald

Lower Hutt children hospitalised, ‘horrific’ family harm injuries discovered, police seek help from public

Melissa Nightingale,
Publish Date
Fri, 22 Mar 2024, 4:28PM

WARNING: This story contains graphic content about child abuse. 

Police believe people they have spoken to after two young children in Lower Hutt suffered “horrific” injuries, including brain bleeds and broken bones, are withholding information. 

The children, aged 4 and 5, from a Stokes Valley property, were seen by police on March 8. 

They were so badly wounded they each required hospitalisation and the older child needed surgery, Detective Senior Sergeant Rebecca Cotton said. 

The wider family and children were known to police and Oranga Tamariki, Cotton confirmed to journalists in Wellington this afternoon. 

The 5-year-old had brain bleeds, lacerations to internal organs and “multiple broken bones”, while the younger sibling had “extensive injuries and multiple fractures”, Cotton said. 

“These horrific injuries don’t simply happen. Someone knows something: you now need to talk to us.” 

Cotton told reporters police are working with Oranga Tamariki, while the children lived at home with their mother. 

Detectives, Cotton added, wanted people to come forward with information about how the children were injured, and who injured them. 

Cotton believed some people who have already spoken to police are withholding information. 

Police interviewed the children today. 

“We’ve been mindful of the childrens’ privacy. We are coming to [the media] today because they have just been discharged from hospital,” Cotton said. 

“We’re keeping an open mind [about what happened].” 

She said police did not know how long the children were being injured and number of people had been “frequenting” the house. 

“I can’t go into specific details - but we’re talking brain breeds, lacerated organs and multiple fractures, so year - very, very severe,” Cotton said of the injuries to the children. 

“[This is] very frustrating. We have issues with child abuse. We continue to work with our partner agencies and get in there and make children safer,” Cotton said when asked about another serious case of child abuse after Lower Hutt toddler Baby Ru died after suffering blunt force trauma. 

Cotton said police “need people in the community to stand up and speak up”. 

“If people out there in the community know this family, they will know what I’m talking about [regarding any suspicious activity].” 

Police investigators believe the siblings’ injuries were inflicted deliberately and likely over a period of time, and are asking for help from the public to determine what happened. 

Concerned hospital staff had alerted officers to a potential family harm incident at the Stokes Valley property after a young child sustained serious injuries and was transported to hospital by ambulance, police said in a statement. 

A medical assessment of the child and their sibling revealed further injuries believed to have been sustained in previous incidents. 

“Their injuries were so extensive one required surgery, and it has taken weeks to understand the full extent of damage to their bodies. Both have a multitude of broken bones, extensive bruising and one child had brain bleeds and severe internal injuries,” the statement said. 

The children recently moved with family to Stokes Valley from a property in Waterloo and had been at their new home for just two nights before they were hospitalised. 

Police are seeking information about any suspicious activity seen or heard at either property, or nearby, on or before Friday, March 8, that may assist police in their investigation. 

Police have conducted area inquiries and are now seeking wider community help with the investigation. 

  • If you have information that may assist police, call 105 or report via 105.police.govt.nz and reference file number: 240308/4647. Alternatively, report information anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111. 

- NZ Herald




How to get help: If you're in danger now: • Phone the police on 111 or ask neighbours or friends to ring for you. 
• Run outside and head for where there are other people. Scream for help so your neighbours can hear you. 
• Take the children with you. Don't stop to get anything else. 
• If you are being abused, remember it's not your fault. Violence is never okay. 
Where to go for help or more information: • Women's Refuge: Crisis line - 0800 REFUGE or 0800 733 843 (available 24/7) 
• Shine: Helpline - 0508 744 633 (available 24/7) 
• It's Not Ok: Family violence information line - 0800 456 450 
• Shakti: Specialist services for African, Asian and Middle Eastern women and children. 
• Crisis line - 0800 742 584 (available 24/7) 
• Ministry of Justice: For information on family violence 
• Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga: National Network of Family Violence Services 
• White Ribbon: Aiming to eliminate men's violence towards women. 
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