Coroner calls for compulsory abuse reporting

Stuff.co.nz 25 July 2012 
The coroner whose findings have implicated Chris Kahui in his sons’ deaths is calling for mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse to prevent further tragedies. The move would help overcome “ethical and legal dilemmas” faced by frontline staff by replacing health professionals’ “discretionary power” with a statutory duty to speak up, Garry Evans says.  Making public his 77-page findings today into the twins’ deaths in 2006, he says additional law changes should be considered to make health and education authorities legally responsible for child protection, as they are overseas. He also recommends that child protection teams be introduced at all district health boards to identify at-risk children and intervene. “The populist thought that health professionals should be required to prevent risks posed by patients or report crimes is fraught with risk,” his decision says. “It is little wonder that providers err on the side of caution unless required to disclose by statute. If we expect their assistance, then clear requirements are needed, rather than a maze of discretion.” Mr Evans has ruled that the twins died in the sole custody, care and control of their father, Chris Kahui, who was acquitted of their murders in 2008. No-one else has been charged over their deaths. “In Chris and Cru’s situation, no-one reported to the authorities that they were at risk and, consequently, none of the professionals in their life had any notice that they were being neglected or abused,” a Social Development Ministry submission to the inquest said. In a section of his findings devoted to New Zealand’s shocking child abuse statistics, Mr Evans says injury is the leading cause of death among children. New Zealand’s rate of death by maltreatment for children under 15 is the fifth highest in the developed world, with infants at highest risk. Experts have cited Privacy Act concerns as hindering information-sharing between vital agencies, and said frequent opportunities were missed to identify risk and intervene “long before a death occurs”, he says. A whole generation of New Zealand children had been reared against a background of social and financial deprivation, resulting in current patterns of neglect. “The impoverishment of some of our young people in economic, education, social, moral, mental and emotional health terms cannot be made good overnight.” Mr Evans also cites an increase in “transient, serial personal relationships between men and women”, whose children were suffering as a result.  
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/7342379/Coroner-calls-for-compulsory-abuse-reporting

Coroner blames Chris Kahui for twins’ deaths
Stuff.co.nz 25 July 2012   
A  coroner has implied that Chris Kahui killed his twin babies and then lied under oath to cover his actions. The landmark report from coroner Garry Evans, which is at odds with Mr Kahui’s 2008 acquittal for the murder of his sons Chris and Cru, raises an “interesting debate” about the meaning of a not guilty verdict and defendants’ right to silence at trial, Mr Evans’ boss, chief coroner Neil MacLean, says. The findings would be looked at with great interest by coroners all over the world, Judge MacLean said. “Implicit in this is a very serious allegation – ‘he did it’.” But despite the damning findings, it is unlikely Mr Kahui will ever be tried again for the twins’ murders because of the protection he gets from “double jeopardy” laws. Lesser charges remain an option, but police say they will not comment on that prospect until they have finished considering the evidence heard during the coroner’s inquest. In his 77-page report released today, Mr Evans is also scathing of the level of child abuse in New Zealand. He recommends law changes to force health professionals to report suspected cases, removing fears around the Privacy Act that sometimes result in deaths. Setting up child protection teams inside all district health boards would also identify at-risk children and lead to greater intervention, he says. “It is little wonder that [health] providers err on the side of caution unless required to disclose by statute. If we expect their assistance, then clear requirements are needed, rather than a maze of discretion.” Mr Evans finds that Chris Kahui was alone with his three-month-old sons for at least three minutes on the day they suffered their fatal injuries in 2006. “The [coroners] court is satisfied . . . that the traumatic brain injuries suffered by Chris and Cru Kahui were incurred by them . . . whilst they were in the sole custody, care and control of their father,” he says. His report also says: “The fact that there was a mixture of both old and fresh injuries affecting the twins is deeply disturbing and shows that the household environment in which they were being brought up was unsafe.” The babies had been left alone with Mr Kahui, 21, by their mother, Macsyna King, on June 12, 2006, when she went to see her sister. 
http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/7342374/Coroner-blames-dad-for-twins-deaths

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