Two men have been convicted of murdering a three-year-old girl in New Zealand, after months of torturing her.
Wiremu Curtis, 19, and his brother Michael, 22, face life sentences for the murder of Nia Glassie.
On 3 August 2007, the child died of brain injuries in hospital, two weeks after suffering fatal kicks to her head.
As she delivered the sentence of the four-week trial, the judge Judith Potter wept and thanked similarly shaken jurors for coping with the case.
Lisa Kuka, 35, the child’s mother, was in a relationship with Michael Curtis and was found guilty of manslaughter for failing to protect Nia.
Nia’s cousin Michael Pearson, 20, and Michael Curtis’s partner Oriwa Kemp, 18, were found not guilty of manslaughter but were found guilty of child cruelty charges in the complex case.
There had been consolation for the toddler’s tragic death in the fact that justice had been served, Cindy Kiro, New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner, told local media.
Horrific abuse detailed
Details of horrific abuse inflicted on the child were given to the court :
– She had been kicked, beaten, slapped, jumped on and held over a burning fire
– She had been put into a clothes dryer spinning at top heat- Wrestling moves copied from a computer game had been practised on her
– She had been folded into a sofa and sat on, shoved into piles of rubbish, dragged through a sandpit half naked, flung against a wall and dropped from a height onto the floor
– And she had been whirled rapidly on an outdoor rotary clothes line until she was thrown off.
At one point, she was left lying unconscious for 36 hours without medical attention.
Because they saw some of the abuse, neighbours told reporters that they will live with the guilt of not having informed the authorities sooner.
Court officials said they had been shocked at how some witnesses found the level of violence in the home to be normal.
Investigators could find no obvious motive for the abuse other than bullying, said prosecutor Fletcher Pilditch.
“She was bullied in the worst kind of way. She was singled out, for what reason we do not know”, he said.
“Both family members and neighbours were aware of the neglect and abuse Nia was subject to”, said Ms Kiro, Children’s Commissioner, in a statement.
“That they didn’t speak out in time is something they will have to live with.”