Plea from victim's mother

Brenda Whiteman
Brenda Whiteman
The Dunedin mother of a victim who had her head split open with an axe is campaigning for tougher penalties for offenders who breach protection orders.

Brenda Whiteman, spurred by her experiences and those of others, is among a group backing a petition to Parliament for change.

''My daughter is still alive ... due to the heroic action of a 5-year-old little boy. My little hero,'' she said.

Her 22-year-old daughter was assaulted in July 2011 by her then 18-year-old partner in the young couple's Dunedin home.

The offender later told police he ''just lost it'', and picked up a kitchen knife and stabbed her multiple times.

When the knife handle broke, he left the blade in her chest and picked up a tomahawk, which he used to fracture her skull, exposing her brain.

She also sustained multiple stab wounds to her neck, left breast, right elbow, right cheek, three of her teeth were fractured and her right eardrum was perforated.

The victim's 5-year-old son raised the alarm after telling a neighbour ''someone is dead''.

''He saved her life,'' the proud grandmother told the Otago Daily Times.

Her daughter's road to recovery had been long, and while everyone was amazed at her progress, she was left with emotional and physical scars.

She has lost some vision in one eye and had a plate in her head, but the family remained grateful she survived.

Her former partner, Jerome Folimatama, admitted to attempting to murder her and was sentenced to six years and four months' jail.

At his sentencing he blew a kiss and a did a victory sign to supporters in the public gallery.

Ms Whiteman told the ODT outside the court at the time ''We are disgusted. It's absolutely ridiculous. It basically excuses that sort of violence''.

The family continues to make submissions to the New Zealand Parole Board, before which Folimatama has appeared twice - most recently on May 22.

''Parole hearings cause us to be retraumatised,'' she said.

Before each hearing, Ms Whiteman talks to police to discuss enforcements of protection orders in case he is parolled.

''I just wanted to know someone would come if there was a concern.''

Last year, 2063 final protection orders were issued, with police receiving 2819 calls about breaches, resulting in just over 1900 convictions.

Earlier this year, the ODT reported a national directive for police to focus on monitoring protection orders was issued just a month before the death of two Dunedin children.

Edward Hamilton Livingstone (51) shot his two children in their St Leonards home earlier this year.

Livingstone, who later turned the shotgun on himself, was the subject of a protection order.

The order was first issued on May 5 and Livingstone breached the order in August by contacting his estranged wife.

He admitted the charge and, as it was his first offence, he was granted police diversion.

Following a September 14 incident, he was charged a second time with breaching the protection order and again admitted the charge.

Ms Whiteman said those deaths and her own experience prompted her to join other ''grandmothers, mothers and girls'' campaigning for tougher laws for those who breached protection orders.

She urged people to sign the petition calling for a stronger stance, including the implementation of a ''three strikes'' policy for breaches of protection orders.

''All of these girls go to the trouble of getting a protection order, but they are no good unless they are enforced. That is why we are going to Parliament with this petition.''

Their petition will be delivered to Parliament on July 22.

Asked for a response, Justice Minister Judith Collins said addressing domestic violence ''is a high priority and a huge amount of work is being done across Government''.

The protection orders regime had been reviewed last year as part of the Family Court reforms and the Government had increased the maximum penalty for breaching a protection order in September 2013 from two to three years' imprisonment.

The minister said increasing numbers of protection order breaches were being prosecuted in court and a third of convicted offenders were imprisoned. ''This shows breaches are taken seriously by the police and the courts.''

More changes to the Domestic Violence Act would take effect in October and a further work programme was expected to be announced shortly.

That couldn't come soon enough for Ms Whiteman.

She acknowledged her daughter was ''one of the lucky ones'', who had miraculously survived.

-hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz


Breach petition
Petition on protection order breaches

• Implementation of ''three strikes'' policy for protection order breaches.

• First breach: strike warning, confiscation of cellphone and computer. Second in three years: warning, $5000 fine paid to victim or compulsory six-month jail term. Third strike in three years: minimum of three years' prison.

• Protection order breach at present punishable by maximum of three years' prison.

• Petition at www.petitions24.com/breachofprotectionorders


Defence

blackbird, you say you don't know what the answer is. If not legal protection, the only answer is armed self defence.

Rock bottom

I firmly believe that the anti-smacking campaigns and school punishment abandonments have failed us as a society and that these will eventually return when society hits rock bottom and we decide it's time to start over.

Higher penalties

The calls for higher penalties for this and that are common headlines in most newspapers. The problem is that penalties are for what happens after that fact.

By calling for higher penalties the average New Zealander is assuming the average criminal thinks like them. You and I might consider the consequences of our actions, so we think that criminals must think like this too. However, criminals typically don't think before acting do they? So higher penalties as a deterrent isn't going to have any effect is it?

I'm not certain what the answer is. Perhaps coming down hard the first time a potential offender breaches a protection order will stop a few people from moving on to a more serious breach later. However I suspect that will only work some of the time.

This could be one of those times we look to police and politicians to solve a problem when the real solution is with all of society. Police can't fix everything for us, society needs to change.

Violating protection orders

We have a sad record of continued violence when protection orders have been put in place.

I wonder if the petition goes far enough.

Maybe a more proactive approach would be an automatic month in prison with intensive counselling . Obviously one partner is struggling and unable to deal with the situation.

Time out to reflect and therapy to redirect energies could be more effective.

 

 

 

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