I knew Namana was out. I'd looked her up on Garth McVicar's database some time ago. What happened to Lillybing changed my life because I reached the point when I no longer wanted to pay for people to live dissolute, destructive and deviant lifestyles and make the lives of children in their care utter misery. Somehow it made me complicit.
Let's not forget what happened (the italicised passages are the words of Pamela Stirling writing for the Listener in 2001).
One depositions witness said Lillybing had arrived at the kohanga reo that day with "shit running down her legs", bare feet "pinky purple" with cold and a snotty face. Other children teased Lilly bing because she smelt. The witness said she retched when she tried to change Lillybing's nappy.
Lillybing was not much more than a baby. A small 23 month-old constantly left in the care of her Aunty, Rachealle Namana, who had four children of her own. Namana resented being put upon. She was called on to breastfeed Lillybing when the biological mother was unable. Lillybing would be left with Namana, without nappies, which is why the toilet-training episode apparently occurred.
There was evidence that Namana hit Lillybing each time she fell from a little wooden platform in front of the adult-sized toilet during a toilet training session that started at around 8pm. It was after 11pm, said the thirteen year-old withness, crying through much of her evidence, that she found Lillybing alone on the toilet, clinging with her arms and legs 'to stop her falling in'.
But Namana was defrauding WINZ. "My sister left for Australia and I kept the benefit."
By Namana's own account she was getting an extra $400 a fortnight. Namana chainsmokes and there is money for alcohol. Namana claims only to go to the pub at lunchtime to put a $2 bet on the TAB, but at the Royal Oak her unborn child was known as "Jack"; short for Jack Daniels. Ask her about drinking during pregnancy and she says she only discovered she was pregnant at seven months. 'I was on the injection; it saves money on tampons.'
There was money for drugs and there was money for band equipment. The partner had a band called FUBAR, which stands for Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. The first word Lillybing said most clearly was "f...".
On the day Lillybing died there was a birthday celebration for Namana and Hemopo's 8 year-old. Her present? A Sky cartoon channel subscription.
But Lillybing is the child who a health worker described in depositions as a 'woebegone little thing' and looking as though she 'never had enough cuddles'.
She fell over all the time. A bruise on her forehead was mistreated with a boiling cloth. Vaginal injuries and bleeding were ignored. At some stage on the day of her death Namana shook her violently causing a major cerebral injury. The Crown says she had also suffered some severe abdominal bruises at about the same time.
When Lillybing lay dead on the couch Namana had driven to her stepmother's house looking for a driver so she could "get on the piss".
Nothing has changed.
Hinewaoriki Rerenoa Merekara Karaitiana - Matiaha 7 Aug 1998 - 23rd July 2000