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STOP plea bargaining! Our children deserve better!

25th October 2019

Our babies, our children are our most precious gifts. Sadly, they are also our most vulnerable of all victims. New Zealand has one of the worst levels of Child Abuse in the developed world. A shameful, devastating statistic that is only getting worse!

The Sensible Sentencing Trust National Spokesperson Jess McVicar said “Every five weeks an innocent child’s life is stolen. Why are so many innocent children’s lives worth so little to so many? When will our Government, our Justice system open their eyes; open their hearts and respect the value of the future of our innocent children?”

Little Bella Richardson was only eight months old when she lost her life to the one man who should have protected her. Nicho Caleb Frater (26) had been told he was Bella’s father. He moved in with Bella’s siblings and her mother, and Frater’s own mother moved in as well. Two weeks later Bella was dead.

Bella’s mother had taken her three other children to school leaving Bella with Frater. She had been unsettled and irritated when her mother returned. Her mother left the house for the second time and within half an hour of her mother leaving, Frater had picked Bella up and thrown her, causing a brain and spinal cord haemorrhage and head injury. Attempts were made to resuscitate Bella, but she died of the fatal injuries inflicted by Frater.

He was charged with Bella’s murder in September 2018. His act of violence was described as ‘a momentary loss of control’ and ‘frustration’.

He initially pleaded not guilty to murder but today pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The decision to reduce a charge from murder to manslaughter was taken by Crown Law, which oversees criminal prosecutions.

Justice Rebecca Ellis convicted Frater today at the Wellington High Court and he is now being held in remand until sentencing on the 16th of December.

Jess said “There are NO excuses for deliberately throwing an eight-month-old child. Downgrading a murder charge to manslaughter is an insult to an innocent baby’s life; a beautiful little girl who deserved to be safe. Our precious children matter - their lives matter!!”

“When Moko Rangitoheriri was killed the country marched wanting legislation changed to stop the use of plea bargaining. The country spoke and were not listened to. The statistics on child abuse in New Zealand make horrific reading and still we are seeing murder changes downgraded.”

“Another aspect of these cases that leaves a very bad taste is that the offender has the bargaining stick; the Crown should not have to bargain with anyone who commits a violent crime, especially when it leads to a death, and now more than likely Frater will get a discount on his sentence for an early guilty plea!” Jess commented.

SST say they will continue to fight against child abuse and continue to raise awareness around these cases.

“The country has had enough of child killers not being held accountable for their actions”


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