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Foster parents treated foster child like slave

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Lukes Dad's picture
on Sat, 08/11/2012 - 14:17
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A former husband and wife who treated a girl they fostered like a slave, beating her and starving her have been found guilty of ill-treating and neglecting her.

It took a Wellington District Court just over three hours to find Russell Guy Kenneth Kennedy, 63, and Leonie Kennedy, 59, both of Wairarapa guilty of cruelly ill-treating and wilfully neglecting a girl under the age of 16 between September 16, 1983 and July 6, 1987 in Greytown. They had pleaded not guilty.

They have been remanded in custody for sentencing in September with Wellington District Court judge Denys Barry saying imprisonment was a virtually inevitability.

The Crown had alleged the girl was beaten with hockey sticks, spoons and jug cords, made to watch while the family ate, denied adequate clothing, and held under water until she thought she would drown.

Prosecutor Ian Murray had said she was treated like a slave to the family and school teachers found her foraging in rubbish bins for food she was so hungry.

For Russell Kennedy, Peter Stevens told the jury  it was an unfortunate case and in the girl's early life, she was moved from six or seven placements before she was three before being placed with the Kennedys.

He told the jury no injuries were ever noticed on her that went with the Crown's allegations. The Kennedys had taken her into their home despite being of little means themselves but were hard working.

He said instead the Social Welfare Department had bungled the case but that did not mean the jury should convict his client.

Lawyer for Leonie Kennedy, Louise Elder said the complainant had told the truth as she believed it but that was unsurprising considering her life before the Kennedys.

"She has told you her truth, made up of recollections, impressions and filling in the blanks many years later, but its not necessarily the truth.''

There was no evidence of beatings or starving or that she needed medical attention, she said.