A couple exchanged “sinister and upsetting” text messages over a four-day period when they were beating and probably kicking the woman’s three-year-old daughter, a judge said as he jailed the pair.
“She can cry all she likes. It won’t stop me,” 23-year-old Michael Raymond Miles texted.
The girl’s mother, 22-year-old Krystal Anne Kuru, replied: “I know, Baby.”
“My boot is looking good,” Miles wrote.
“Can’t wait,” Kuru replied, and Miles ended with the line: “Yep. She will be getting it till she stops, eh.”
The pair were today jailed for 22 months by Christchurch District Court Judge Brian Callaghan who described their assaults on the defenceless three-year-old as “sustained and cowardly”.
They had pleaded guilty to charges of intentionally injuring the child with a series of assaults committed in Christchurch from November 30 to December 3, 2014.
Permission had been sought for both of them to apply for home detention during their jail terms, but Judge Callaghan refused, saying: “This was offending on a helpless, isolated, and innocent three-year-old and calls for a severe response.”
He said the text messages the couple exchanged made “sinister and upsetting reading”.
The child was beaten with a kitchen ladle and Judge Callaghan said he believed Miles had probably used his work boots on her as well, though Miles denied it. The child was found with extensive bruising including injuries to the head and ear.
“The text messages raise a very sinister overtone showing a propensity for both of you to subject this child to physical abuse,” said the judge, describing the exchanges as “unsavoury”.
Defence counsel for Kuru, Margaret Sewell, said the woman had not caused the bruising but acknowledged that she had not prevented the assaults happening. She had previously been seen as a good mother, and she hoped a home detention sentence would be considered.
For Miles, Bridget Ayrey said there was no way of knowing which of the pair had caused the injuries. Miles’ health had deteriorated since his remand for sentencing. He had no address available for home detention but asked for permission to apply if an address was found during his sentence.
Judge Callaghan said that the girl had been subject to several beatings by both of them. He did not accept that Kuru had been a bystander. During her pre-sentence interview she had admitted physically punishing her daughter, using hands and kitchen implements to hit her.
Fortunately for the child, there was no permanent damage or broken limbs.
“But it was sustained and cowardly and hugely inappropriate towards a three-year-old child,” said Judge Callaghan. “I don’t suggest for a moment that there may not have been behavioural issues, but there are other ways of dealing with them.”
Since the offending, Kuru had done part of a parenting course. Both of them will be subject to stand and special conditions for six months after their release from prison.