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Sentences In Nia Case Inadequate - Mayor

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Nia Glassie
Nia Glassie

Wellington, Feb 5 NZPA - The murder of Rotorua toddler Nia Glassie has left a stain on the town's reputation and the sentences for her killers are manifestly inadequate, Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters says.

Wiremu Curtis, 19, and brother Michael Curtis, 22, were yesterday sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 17-1/2 years for Nia's murder.

Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, 35, was sentenced to nine years for manslaughter, while Nia's cousin Michael Pearson, 20 and Michael Curtis' partner Oriwa Kemp, 18, were sentenced to three years and three years and four months respectively for wilful ill treatment.

The group was convicted in the High Court at Rotorua in November after a jury heard evidence of horrific abuse and beatings which equated to torture and eventually led to three-year-old Nia's death.

Mr Winters today said the case had cast a pall over Rotorua and yesterday's sentencing had reopened wounds in the community.

People who had spoken to him since yesterday's sentencing felt those responsible for Nia's death should have received much harsher punishment.

He backed their views and called on the Government to urgently toughen up the sentencing regime for serious offenders.

"If you take a life you should suffer the consequences a hell of a lot more than being just thrown in prison for 17 years."

He said there was also a general feeling in the town that Kuka, especially, and to a lesser extent Pearson and Kemp were all responsible for Nia's death and should have received far longer sentences.

Mr Winters' call follows similar ones from the ACT Party and tougher sentencing lobby group, the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

ACT law and order spokesman David Garrett today called the sentences handed down by Justice Judith Potter "pathetic" and out of touch with ordinary people.

"There was nothing -- except aversion to being overturned on appeal -- to prevent Justice Potter handing down sentences of 30, or even 40, years to these animals."

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia said the shame of Nia's suffering "endures in our social conscience" and she called on families to step in to prevent abuse.

"No healthy family would have treated a child in the way they did -- and it was clear that the adults in this family were also victims of violence."

Drug and alcohol abuse were also influential factors, she said.

Nia died of brain injuries in Auckland's Starship Hospital in August 2007, two weeks after suffering what the Crown told the court were fatal kicks to the head by the Curtis brothers.

The court also heard evidence of her being thrown onto a rotary clothesline, screaming as she was spun faster and faster until she flew off, hurting her head on the ground, and being put in tumble drier and spun around with it set to hot.

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