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First Dead Child on National’s Watch


Media Release
5th January 2009


The death of toddler Riley Osborne is yet another which could have been prevented had a Government agency done its job. The only difference is that this one happened on National's watch. So what is the National-led Government going to do to stop this happening?

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is about more than appropriate sentencing after the crime – our mission is to ensure safety for all New Zealanders from violent and criminal offending, through education, development of effective penal policies, and the promotion of responsible behaviour, accountable parenting, and respect for each other at all levels of society.

New Zealand needs Sensible Sentencing Trust to keep Nzers safe – because the Government has proved time and time again that it is incapable of doing this.

So what do we know about the death of Riley Osborne?

His alleged killer is also facing six methamphetamine-related charges, including the alleged supply of pseudoephedrine-based tablets and offering to supply methamphetamine, which span a period from late October to December. And yet Kerikeri Police were happy to allow Skerten to live in a house with a child.

Northland is the drug capital of New Zealand. The Police up there cannot be blind to the effects of drug use. Have they learned nothing from the explosive behaviour of William Bell, Antonie Dixon, Graeme Burton and Liam Reid, to name but a few of the high profile P users who are household names in NZ?

We can only assume that familiarity breeds complacency.

There is no room for complacency where drugs are concerned.

Judge Andrew Becroft knew that when he referred to the “ticking time bombs” that must be defused. And John Key agreed with him. On 30 September 2008 it was reported that

“National Party Leader John Key is welcoming the wake-up call delivered by Principal Youth Court Judge Andrew Becroft who has stressed the importance of defusing young "human timebombs" before they explode.
“When I announced National’s Youth Plan in January this year, I was clear that a National-led Government would confront this problem and tackle ‘the ticking timebombs’.”

Judge Becroft has previously said there is a group of about 1,000 serious, persistent young offenders and the system knows who they are.

“For nine long years, the Labour Government has failed to act on the repeated warnings from those on the front line like Judge Becroft. National has been listening.”


In the recent sentencing of two men who smuggled in enough P to provide a hit for every single person in Auckland, Justice Patricia Courtney observed that "(P) users quickly become addicted and the drug has a devastating effect on the personality and function of almost all who use it.”


The last word must go to Deborah Coddington who recently wrote that “Tragic and infuriating as the death of Mellory Manning is, SEX WORKERS ARE MUCH SAFER THAN NEW ZEALAND CHILDREN IN THEIR OWN HOMES.....A LITTLE CHILD IS IN MORE DANGER OF BEING KILLED IN THIS COUNTRY THAN A PROSTITUTE.”

Christine Davey, Sensible Sentencing's Spokesperson on Drug Issues has for the last year been calling on the previous Government and now the current Government to do something positive to prevent the horrific damage that drug users inflict on our society.

New Zealand wants NO MORE DEAD OR DAMAGED CHILDREN in situations that are highly preventable if Government agencies are doing their job.

The solution is not difficult – SST is calling for intervention and treatment of drug users at family request, and all children – their own and anyone else’s - to be removed from the care of drug users.

The ball is in your court John – tell us how you intend confronting this problem before the next child ends up dead or brain damaged.

And please don't let the solution involve another Committee.


© Scoop Media

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