Thursday, 2 December 2010

SBS: New Zealand: Tatana receives non-jail sentence

Jacob Tatana   Waikato Times: IN THE DOCK: Jacob Tatana, 21, of Cambridge, says he was tired after a weekend of drinking and drug use when he shook his baby daughter.
A Cambridge man who severely injured his baby daughter by shaking her has avoided prison.
The sentence has angered child advocates who say the country should be ashamed of its record of child abuse.
Jacob Patrick Tatana, 21, was yesterday sentenced to three months' home detention and 150 hours' community work when he appeared in the Hamilton District Court.
He earlier pleaded guilty to a charge of injuring by unlawful act related to shaking his three-month-old daughter Kayla Anne Tatana.
Judge Glen Marshall originally considered a sentence of seven months in jail - the maximum penalty is three years - but reduced it due to mitigating factors.
Sensible Sentencing Trust national spokesman Garth McVicar said the starting point should have been five years, and judges should focus on deterrence, not just the circumstances of individual cases.
"We are very high in world standards now with assaults on babies and deaths of babies," Mr McVicar said.
"We should be absolutely ashamed of it and our judges should consider it."
The court heard Tatana caused severe haemorrhaging to the left side of Kayla's brain and eye after violently shaking her at his home on March 1 this year.
Tatana - exhausted after a weekend of smoking cannabis and drinking - was looking after Kayla while his partner, Gina Hodges, was at work.
About 9pm, while Tatana was getting Kayla ready for bed and changing her, she soiled herself and messed on a blanket she was lying on.
Tatana lost his temper, picked up Kayla, shook her violently then thrust her down on to an air mattress which was on the floor.
An hour later she became unresponsive and floppy.
Kayla suffered temporary paralysis to her left side and subsequent seizures, which she had now outgrown.
The haemorrhage behind her left eye still hampered vision, but doctors were optimistic her eyesight could be restored in part or whole.
The couple had since split and Miss Hodges now lives in Levin with Kayla.
Tatana was assessed as being at a low risk of reoffending and had shown genuine remorse for his actions. Miss Hodge confirmed the behaviour was out of character for him. Tatana had also lost his job as a result of the charge.
Judge Marshall said Tatana had shown a great deal of insight into what happened, however it was still horrific for his daughter.
"She could do or say nothing that could stop or affect your actions - she must suffer what violence is dished out to her; she is completely helpless."
Mr Tatana's family declined to make any comment when approached after sentencing.
Anthea Simcock, chief executive of Hamilton-based child protection agency Child Matters, said the case should serve as a wake-up call for stressed-out parents.
While Kayla's prognosis was good, it might not be the same in other cases.
"You don't know the outcome when you're doing it," she said.
Help and advice was available 24/7 through the Plunket hotline (0800 933 922) and Mrs Simcock suggested parents should use that first when they felt the pressure building.
Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said: "This outcome sends all the wrong messages about the communities' stand against violence, and sets a dangerous precedent for future cases."

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