Sue Bradford commented on a case in the Sunday Star Times. She was quick to pass judgement on the parents but also admitted that she didn’t know the details of the case. But she still knew better than a jury of 12 independent people who sat for 4 weeks and heard ALL the facts – and unanimously within an hour acquitted the parents on ALL charges.
So for Bradford’s benefit, here’s the facts.
THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS
While staying with his mum on holiday, Jack’s 12y/o decided he wanted to stay there instead of at dad’s. The mother told him to ring Whatsup – the youth helpline – and to make claims of smacking and abuse by Jack. This was referred to CYF, and the nightmare began.
Despite testimony and written affidavits in the Family Court covering this period which praised Jack’s parenting skills and supported his application for custody of his children, and despite no other supporting evidence, CYF also took custody of his 6y/o and 1y/o.
There were claims against Jack and his wife Jill of smacking, excessive time out in a cold room (the whole house was cold!), cold showers, giving the 12y/o a #2 haircut (not a shameful cut at all – the school principal testified in court that it was nice), and excessive chores. Jack and Jill were also charged with kidnapping and tying the 12 y/o when preventing him from harming himself and others. The 12y/o had twice recently seriously assaulted Jill including punching her in the stomach when she was pregnant and biting and kicking her to the ground on another occasion, but no action was taken by CYF or the police. Jack was also charged with washing the boy’s mouth with soap when he repeatedly swore mother-f**ker and other highly offensive language at the parents. Other attempts to stop this had failed.
Jack and Jill said that their actions were simply part of the normal disciplining and raising of children and at no stage were they abusive (which the jury agreed!)
The police (using their discretion!) charged Jack and Jill with 18 charges – eventually reduced to 15 during the trial. Jack and Jill were forced to live apart for 20 months because only Jill was allowed to live with the 1y/o. Jack and Jill were allowed one hour per week with the 6y/o and Jack was limited to one hour per week with the 1y/o.
During the trial – 19 months after losing their children – Jill (now 7 months pregnant with their 2nd child) had to walk up and down six flights of stairs to the courtroom cells during every adjournment and lunch break, and was fed once between 9am and 5pm. Only after being admitted to hospital with suspected appendicitis did she not have to go downstairs to the cell during breaks. She was also allowed to bring in her own food.
During the trial which lasted for four weeks, it was quickly established by the jury and the court that the claims against Jack and Jill were all made up and totally exaggerated, and that Jack’s ex-partners had influenced their children to make these claims.
Jack and Jill were found NOT GUILTY on ALL 15 charges unanimously by the jury. Some of the charges were pre- the smacking law, and others after the smacking law came in to effect.
The lead juror contacted Family First NZ after the case, and said she was ‘embarrassed and ashamed to be a NZ’er.’ She couldn’t believe that the family had been treated like this. A number of the other jurors have also maintained contact with Jack and Jill to ensure their continuing welfare.
BUT THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES
Since the FULL acquittal, only the 1y/o (now 2) has been allowed to return home IF Jack does psychological counselling and a parenting programme. The child is still under CYF control though. They are allowed contact with the 6y/o (now 8) only one hour per week. The 12 y/o (now 13) is still not allowed contact with his dad – despite the full acquittal.
COULD YOU BE NEXT?
Despite being acquitted of ALL charges and almost two years of hell, they STILL are not back together as a family yet.
This case is yet a further warning to parents about the concerning use of ‘discretion’ by the police, and the unaccountable power of CYF to intervene in the lives of good families using laws such as the anti-smacking law.
This account was written with the assistance of court documentation, personal testimony of the family, and confirmation by the head juror!