CYF caregiver found guilty of abuse charges

Two days of deliberation yielded a mixture of unanimous and majority verdicts - mostly guilty - against a Northland CYF caregiver accused of physically and sexually abusing vulnerable children in his care.

A jury of eight-women and four-men found Taite Hemi Kupa guilty in the High Court at Whangarei yesterday afternoon on 21 of 23 charges.

Kupa, 57, faced nine counts of assaulting a child under 14, one of assaulting a female, three of raping a child under 16, nine of unlawful sexual connection with a child under 16, and one of attempted rape of a child under 16.

Most of the charges relate to alleged offences in the Whangarei CYF family home he ran with his wife but one relates to an address in Kaitaia.

The Crown this week added new charges to the indictment after all the evidence was presented, adding four extra counts of assaulting a child under 14.

The jury started their deliberation on Wednesday morning and retired for the day at 5pm before returning to court yesterday morning.

At 11.30am yesterday, Justice Reynor Asher directed them on rules around majority verdicts before they went back to the jury room to continue their deliberation.

The judge was advised about 3.10pm that the verdicts were ready to be delivered.

Unanimous guilty verdicts were delivered on nine charges of assaulting a child under the age of 14 and one of male assaults female.

Majority verdicts of guilty by 11 of the 12 jury members were returned on six charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection, three of rape, one of attempted rape, and one of attempted sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

There were unanimous not guilty verdicts on two charges of sexual violation by unlawful sexual connection.

Following the verdicts, Justice Asher convicted Kupa on the counts on which he was found guilty and remanded him in custody for sentencing on June 20.

He ordered pre-sentence reports before that date. Justice Asher thanked the jury for their service and said their experience during the case had been a significant event for them.

- By Imran Ali of the Northern Advocate

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