Chris and Cru Kahui murders

Chris and Cru Kahui murders

The deaths of brothers Christopher Arepa and Cru Omeka Kahui (20 March 2006cite news|url=|title=The Kahui twins: Murder — and the cover-up|date=2006-06-24|publisher=Weekend Herald|author=Carroll du Chateau|coauthors=Louisa Cleave|accessdate=2006-07-05] – 18 June 2006), two New Zealand infants from a Māori family who died in Auckland's Starship Children's Hospital after being admitted with serious head injuries, [cite news|title=Signs of earlier abuse of Kahui twins|date=2006-07-18|publisher=The Dominion Post|first=Deborah|last=Diaz|accessdate=2006-07-18] highlighted the fact that Māori children are more than twice as likely to die as a result of abuse than non-Māori [cite web|title=Child Abuse And Neglect|publisher=Ministry of Social Development|accessdate=2007-09-27| url=] and that New Zealand ranks third highest among OECD nations for child deaths due to maltreatment according to a 2003 UNICEF report. [cite book| url = |title= A League Table of Child Maltreatment Deaths in Rich Nations |format = PDF |accessdate = 2006-07-04 |year = 2003 |publisher = UNICEF |id = ISBN 88-85401-94-5 |pages = pg. 4]

Their family initially refused to cooperate with police in the homicide investigation into the children's deaths. The father, 21-year-old, Christopher Sonny Kahui was charged with their murder. His defence was that the mother did it. After a six week trial, the jury took just one minute to acquit him. ["The Star-Times understands the Kahui jury deliberated for just one minute not 10 minutes as previously reported. As soon as the jury was sent to deliberate, members were polled and everyone said Kahui was not guilty that took one minute. The jury then went to lunch and returned its verdict as soon as lunch was over." cite news|url=|title=Loudmouth juror put Kahui trial at risk|last=Alexander|first=Miriyana|date=2008-06-01|work=Sunday Star Times|accessdate=2008-06-01]

Before deaths

Chris and Cru Kahui were the two survivors of triplets born prematurely at 29 weeks on 20 March 2006 at the National Women's Hospital in Grafton, New Zealand. They spent six weeks at the Kidz First neonatal intensive care unit at Middlemore Hospital. During this time, nurses and social workers at the facility had informally raised concerns with a Department of Child, Youth and Family Services worker, as the parents, Chris Kahui and Macsyna King, did not spend a lot of time with the babies. According to the hospital, parents not visiting is not considered child abuse, but was a "cause for concern". [cite news|url=|title=Nurses raised concern before twins' deaths|date=2006-06-25|publisher=NZPA|accessdate=2006-07-04]

Because the infants were still technically patients of Middlemore Hospital, hospital workers regularly visited the family home. During their last visit to the hospital, Chris and Cru were reported to be healthy and well-fed. However, an autopsy showed that the infants had suffered fractured ribs in an incident prior to the fatal injuries.


On 13 June, the infants' mother, Macsyna King, returned to the house after being away overnight. She found that the boys suffered extensive bruises, and that their grandfather, William "Banjo" Kahui, had performed CPR on them. Police said the grandfather was not the only person in the house at the time. According to former MP John Tamihere, a member of the Kahui extended family had said "a young relative" was caring for the babies the day they were fatally injured. [cite news|title=Twins 'in care of youngsters'|date=2006-06-22|publisher=The Dominion Post|first=Deborah|last=Diaz|accessdate=2006-07-04] King and her husband took their children to the family G.P., who ordered immediate hospitalisation for the infants. Instead of going to Middlemore Hospital, which was only 10 minutes away, the parents went to McDonald's and returned home after several hours.cite news|url=|title=Kahui twins' parents put burgers before babies|date=2006-09-17|publisher=Herald on Sunday|accessdate=2006-09-17] King eventually took her infants to Middlemore Hospital. Doctors immediately discovered that the infants had serious brain injuries. After the infants were transferred to Starship Hospital, hospital workers notified the police. The Kahui infants were ultimately taken off life support, with Cru being the first to die at 5 a.m. on 18 June. Chris died at 6:45 p.m. later in the day. The deaths resulted in an initial serious assault investigation by the New Zealand Police before charges were upgraded to homicide. [cite news|title=Police probe deaths of twins|date=2006-06-19|publisher=The Press|accessdate=2006-07-04]

Both infants had suffered skull fractures from blunt force trauma and Chris Kahui had a broken femur. An orthopaedic specialist told "The Sunday Star-Times" that in order to break the femur of a baby, the bone would have to bend at a 90 degree angle, ruling out an accidental cause of the injury. [cite news|title=We know who killed the twins - aunts|date=2006-07-02|publisher=The Sunday Star-Times|first=Tim|last=Hume|accessdate=2006-07-04]

The bodies were released to the family on 21 June and taken to the Manurewa marae for a tangihanga (funeral rites). They were buried at the Manukau City cemetery on 24 June. [cite news|url=|title=Kahui twins interred|date=2006-06-24|publisher=Newstalk ZB|accessdate=2006-07-04]

While the infants were in hospital, Child, Youth and Family removed a 12-month-old brother Shane and their female cousin Cayenne, aged six months from two rented Housing New Zealand homes — one in Clendon, the other in Mangere — where the Kahui babies had lived. Police said they were treated in hospital for injuries resulting from "neglect". They had been found to be malnourished and "dirty". [cite news|url=|title=Post mortem details of twins released|date=2006-06-20|publisher=Newstalk ZB|accessdate=2006-07-04] According to the "Herald on Sunday" newspaper, the two children were to be returned to the family in September 2006. But neither the parents or so-called "Tight 12" of family members who initially refused to cooperate with police, would be their caregivers. [cite news|url=|title=Kahui kids to return to family|publisher=NZ Herald|date=2006-09-10|accessdate=2006-09-11]

Homicide investigation

The police believe that, while the infants were in hospital prior to their deaths, the family was uncooperative with any investigation. [cite news|title=Twins' family 'agreed to thwart police'|date=2006-06-24|publisher=The Dominion Post|first=Michael|last=Field|accessdate=2006-07-04] Pita Sharples, the co-leader of the Māori Party, said the family had agreed to talk to police on 26 June, [cite news|url=|title=Sharples confident family will talk|date=2006-06-26|publisher=Radio New Zealand|accessdate=2006-07-04] but this did not happen. [cite news|url=|title=Kahui Family Fail To Front To Police|date=2006-06-26|publisher=NewsWire|accessdate=2006-07-04] Following the deaths, Sharples said he was disgusted by the Kahui family's behaviour. He claimed some members of the family were more interested in going "to the pub and have a drink" than coming forward to police. Prime Minister Helen Clark said it was "absolutely shocking" for the family to hide behind the funeral while everyone in the country was "shocked and revolted" by the injuries. [cite news|url=|title=Kahui silence disgusting, says Sharples|date=2006-06-27|publisher=NZPA|accessdate=2006-07-04] There were even reports that gang members were threatening the Kahui family in utu (or revenge) over their refusal to speak. [cite news|url=|title=Gangs want utu against Kahui family|date=2006-06-27|publisher=Newstalk ZB|accessdate=2006-07-04]

After refusing to speak to police in the week after the death, police went to family homes on 27 June. At least four family members, including the children's mother and aunt, [cite news|url=|title=Kahui Family Talking To Police|date=2006-06-28|publisher=NewsWire|accessdate=2006-07-04] were escorted to police stations. [cite news|title=Police bring family in for interviews|date=2006-06-28|publisher=The Dominion Post|author=Martin Kay|coauthors="NZPA"|accessdate=2006-07-04] By 4 July, at least 20 extended family members were questioned, as well as 90 medical practitioners and staff who were in contact with the babies. [cite news|title=20 questioned in twins case|date=2006-07-04|publisher=The Dominion Post|first=Michael|last=Field|accessdate=2006-07-04] Forensic scientists removed items such as clothing from the Kahui homes. [cite news|url=|title=Baby clothes taken from Kahui home|date=2006-07-03|publisher=Newstalk ZB|accessdate=2006-07-04] By September, police said that the family was no longer "stone-walling" their inquiries, but a prima facie case had yet to be established. "Sunday News" reported on 17 September that the list of suspects was down to three and an arrest was imminent. [cite news|title=Kahui twins homicide suspect list down to 3 - report|date=2006-09-17|publisher=NZPA|accessdate=2006-09-17] This was followed by a police statement nine days later stating that they now know who was responsible for the deaths. However, other family members could still be charged with related crimes. [cite news|title=We know who killed the twins, say police|date=2006-09-27|publisher=NZPA|accessdate=2006-09-27]

Two half-sisters of the infant's mother Macsyne King, appeared on TVNZ's "Sunday" 23 July episode. They claimed that Macsyne and her brother, Robert King, had told them the name of the killer. TNVZ censored the name when one of the women said it, but the gender was revealed to be male. [cite news|title=Police play down arrests in Kahui case|publisher=NZPA|date=2006-07-24|accessdate=2006-07-25] The infant's paternal grandmother, who appeared the next day on TV3's "Campbell Live", contradicted this information, stating that the killer was female. [cite news|title=Grandmother of dead twins disputes killer is a male|publisher=NZPA|date=2006-07-25|accessdate=2006-07-25]

The homes where the babies lived were also home to at least nine adult occupants, eight of whom were on some form of social welfare. They may have been receiving payments totalling between $845 and $1395 a week, depending on their age and circumstances. [cite news|url=|title=Taxpayers shell out for Kahuis|date=2006-06-27|publisher=The New Zealand Herald|accessdate=2006-07-04] Work and Income New Zealand launched an investigation to see whether all the payments were legitimate. [cite news|title=Killing of twins prompts dole blitz|date=2006-07-04|publisher=The Dominion Post|first=Martin|last=Kay|accessdate=2006-07-04] Two instances of substantiated benefit fraud were found for one individual. [cite news|title=The Kahuis - what's to stop it happening again?|date=2007-06-11|accessdate=2007-06-16|publisher=Sunday Star Times] The Clendon house had been occupied for two to three months, but neighbours had not noticed that babies were living there. According to the neighbours, Tuesday and Thursday nights were "party nights," as this was when benefit payments were received. Loud music and fighting was often heard. One neighbour said that a sixteen-year-old female appeared on their doorstep at 3:30 a.m., one morning after she said an older man at the Clendon house attempted to sexually assault her.

Murder arrest

The 1 October edition of the "Sunday Star-Times" newspaper published an interview with the infant's father, Chris Kahui. Kahui said that he did not kill his sons, but if Police could not find anyone else, "I go down for something I didn't do". [cite news|url=|title=I didn't kill twins, asserts father|publisher=NZPA|date=2006-10-01|accessdate=2006-10-27] Investigators called Kahui's interview with the police on 3 October a "major development". [cite news|title=Progress but no arrest in Kahui case|publisher=NZPA|date=2006-10-03|accessdate=2006-10-27]

On 26 October, a "carload of detectives" had gone to several addresses looking for Chris Kahui, who was brought in for questioning. At 10 p.m., it was announced in a press conference that a 21-year-old man had been arrested and charged with the murder of the infants, and would appear in the Manukau District Court the next day. No other family members faced charges with relation to the deaths.cite news|title=Kahui twins' father charged|publisher=Dominion Post|date=2006-10-27|accessdate=2006-10-27]

Contrary to this, the "Sunday News" reported on 31 December 2006 that, according an unnamed source, a second arrest was expected. Neither the exact charges that would be laid nor the relationship of the person to the infants were revealed. [cite news|title=Fresh twist in Kahui case|publisher=Sunday News|date=2006-12-31|accessdate=2006-12-31] Three weeks later the same newspaper said four people involved in the investigation had been summoned to the appear at the Manukau district court on 24 January. Sources told the newspaper that the new charges relate to dead infants and a pre-school child. One of those to be charged was Macsyna King, the mother of Chris and Cru. [cite news|title=Four in court for Kahui case|publisher=Sundays News|date=2007-01-21|accessdate=2007-01-21] None of these charges eventuated.

According to the "Herald on Sunday", the Microsoft Word file containing the press release announcing the arrest of Kahui had actually been created five days earlier, and the last edit was the day before the arrest. In the same article, the "Herald" reported the Police were questioning whether Kahui was actually the biological father of the infants. [cite news|url=|title=Kahui twins' paternity questioned|date=2006-10-29|accessdate=2006-10-29] DNA tests later confirmed that he was the father. [cite news|url=|title=Tests confirm Kahui was twins' dad|date=2007-04-08|accessdate=2006-04-18|publisher=NZ Herald]

Court appearances

Kahui appeared in the Number One court of the Manukau District Court on 27 October for a two-minute hearing, where he was formally charged with murder. He was asked not to plead; however, outside the court, Kahui's lawyer, Lorraine Smith, said her client would "fight the charges". He was remanded in police custody until 10 November when he was freed on bail. [cite news|title=Kahui twins' father granted bail|date=2006-11-10|accessdate=2006-11-10] A pre-depositions hearing was held 17 January.

A second pre-depositions hearing was intended to take place on 21 March. This was so his lawyer could read 60 files of evidence collected by police, and for a medical expert from Australia to become available. [cite news|title=Kahui twins' father reappears in court|date=2007-01-17|accessdate=2007-01-17|publisher=NZPA] This second hearing was delayed because the defence was still waiting for the medical report from Australia. [cite news|title=Further brief court appearance by father accused of killing Kahui twins|publisher=Radio New Zealand|date=2007-03-21|accessdate=2007-03-21] The depositions hearing was finally set for 18 June, with a brief court appearance on 18 April. [cite news|title=Kahui twins' dad sent to deposition hearing|date=2006-04-18|accessdate=2006-04-18|publisher=Fairfax Media] This date was later changed to sometime in 13 August. [cite news|url=|title=Internet can prejudice jurors - judge|date=2007-08-11|accessdate=2007-08-11|publisher=NZ Herald]

Kahui was found not guilty on Thursday 22 May 2008, after a ten minute deliberation. The officer who lead the police investigations into the murders, Detective Inspector John Tims, said he was "disappointed" at the verdict,cite news|url=|title=No charges against Kahui twins' mother|date=2008-05-22|accessdate=2008-05-55|publisher=NZ Herald] finding "no evidence to support a charge against any other person and that includes the mother, Macsyna King". [ [ Kahui case will remain closed 'at this point' - 26 May 2008 - NZ Government news - NZ Herald ] ] He acknowledged the prosecutor, who had "said in his opening and closing address that there is no new evidence to support a charge being laid against the mother, Macsyna King". No charges were laid against Macsyna King.

Kahui's lawyer has threatened to lodge a complaint with the Police Complaints Authority over Police handling of the prosecution of her client for the murder of Chris and Cru Kahui. [ [ 'Furious' Kahui defence launch police complaint (+ photos, video) - 24 May 2008 - Coverage of Chris Kahui's murder trial - ] ]


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  • Cris and Cru Kahui homicides — The deaths of brothers Christopher Arepa and Cru Omeka Kahui (20 March 2006[1] – 18 June 2006), two New Zealand infants from a Māori family who died in Auckland s Starship Children s Hospital after being admitted with serious head injuries,[2]… …   Wikipedia

  • Crime in New Zealand — is of strong interest to the public due to concerns for personal safety and security of property. The media regularly reports only certain types of crimes and this may give a skewed perception to the public. Contents 1 History …   Wikipedia

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