Boy wanted to live with sister, not 'monster' mother

A daughter described her mother as "a monster" as she told the Dunedin District Court about seeing her mother beating her younger brothers with a belt and screaming abuse at them.

The adult sister said her 9-year-old brother begged her to let him stay with her and her husband, telling her "he promised he would be good and he wished that she [his mother] would die in a car accident".

The woman was giving evidence yesterday on the second day of the trial of her 41-year-old Invercargill mother, who faces 14 charges of assault against three of her children, aged 3, 9 and 12.

The charges include assaults using a belt, jug cord, wooden spoon, fibreglass tent pole and a jandal as a weapon, and allegedly took place in Gisborne, Napier and Invercargill between April 2006 and March 2008.

The adult sister told the jury and Judge Stephen O'Driscoll she saw her mother "viciously" laying into two of her younger brothers with a belt, for at least 20 seconds, hitting one until he cried before turning on the other.

"They [the children] were annoying each other, poking each other, jumping around. [They were] just being kids.

"She used to tell [one of the boys] that she hated him and that she was going to crack them. You don't tell a 3-year-old that."

Earlier yesterday, the 9-year-old child told the court, via closed circuit television, how he would "run away screaming because it hurts" when he was hit, and that he and his brothers would hide when the jug cord came out.

The boy said he was "probably" hit because he was being naughty or not listening to his mother. The adult sister said she asked her mother if she wanted to leave one of the children with her, and although her mother initially declined, she later agreed to leave the 12-year-old boy.

Defence counsel Sonia Vidal, of Invercargill, asked the adult daughter if she had contacted Child, Youth and Family because she wanted to keep her younger brother with her, after her mother had asked for him to come home, but she said "no".

Ms Vidal also asked her if the alleged incidents she said she had witnessed did not happen, which the adult sister denied.

When asked why she had not confronted her mother at the time, she replied: "What could I have said?"

Gisborne social worker Alica Richardson-Marr, who works for Youth Justice, told the court she visited the adult sister's home after they rang CYF with a complaint, and interviewed her and her husband.

According to her notes, neither mentioned seeing the children being hit with a belt or a wooden spoon.

The initial interview to assess the safety of the children was her only contact with the case.

Technical problems delayed the start of evidence yesterday morning and the trial is expected to finish tomorrow.


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