Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Please Help Me Fundraise!!

When I'm not spending my time researching, posting and blogging about crimes from New zealand and around the world, I'm busy with my studies. I am currently completely a Diploma in Mental Health Support Work. Because of this, I haven't seen my daughter, who lives with her grandparents in another city, in months. She'd really like for me to come and stay for a bit, and I would love that too. But it's not easy to make ends meet on a student allowance, and I have two cats as well, and nobody to look after them while I'm gone. As a result, I'm crowdfunding to try and raise the money and I would really appreciate everyone's kindess and generosity so I can go and spend some quality time with my girl!!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The History of Crime: Animal Trials

In the modern age, most judicial systems recognise that animals cannot be held responsible for "crimes" because they lack the cognitive ability, and the moral agency, to tell right from wrong. But this wasn't always the case.
In the Middle Ages, animals were routinely subjected to the same criminal charges, and proceedings, as humans. In fact, criminal trials against animals were considered perfectly normal, and were conducted right up into the 18th century. The podcast Criminal covered one such case from the 1400s, in their very first episode. This rather famous animal trial featured a pig, who was tried for the murder and mutilation of an infant. The pig was found guilty, and sentenced to death by hanging.
Pigs were common defendants in medieval animal trials, mainly due to different way in which livestock were kept at the time. When we think of farm animals, we think of large herds contained by acres of a fencing, but in the Middle Ages, the number of animals being farmed were much smaller. Most peasant families owned one or two animals - a pig, a couple of chickens and maybe a goat or a cow for milking - and these animals were largely free roaming.  
More often than not, the victims of animal "homicide" were children, because the living conditions of the time bought them into close, regular contact with livestock. Medieval children, unless they were members of the aristocracy, were not educated, so they were not in school during the day. They were put to work from the moment they were of an age and size to do so, usually in the same fields as their parents. When not working, they were playing in the muddy streets, right alongside all the roaming farm animals. Deaths due to frightened or enraged animals encountering small children were fairly common, especially as what would be considered a minor injury today, would be life-threatening in medieval times. In a society where hygiene is non-existant and antibiotics haven't been discovered yet, an open wound, however small, can be a death sentence.
But trying animals for the death or injury of humans wasn't the only type of animal trial, there were also the religious trials. The Middle Ages were an era of Biblical literalism, and of witch trials, where the Roman Catholic Church was systematically stamping out "the competition" - paganism, midwifery, herbalists and other traditional forms of folk medicine. Part of that campaign included demonising certain animals, as the demonic familiars of witches. Black cats are the most obvious candidate, but they were by no means the only targets of the astute witch hunter. Cats of any colour were fair game, as were dogs, certain types of birds, rats, and insects.
One particular case, recorded by the infamous Witch-finder General, Matthew Hopkins, is that of Jane Wallis of Huntingdonshire, East Anglia. According to Hopkins, Jane Wallis had two familiars who went by the names Grizzel and Greediguts. In her confession (obtained by torture, of course), Wallis claimed that the familiars could take almost any form, but appeared most often as greyhounds with a bristle of hog hair running down their backs. She also confessed to suckling these creatures from her "Witch's marks." These marks, also called Witch's teats, were believed to be a permanent mark that the Devil placed upon the body of an initiate witch, as a visible sign of her compact with the malignant forces. These marks were most often described as being wart-like in appearance, the origin of the modern caricature of the witch with the wart on her nose that we see in popular culture.
In reality, these witch's teats were actually real warts, scars or birthmarks, marks that the person who possessed them had no control over, but were enough to condemn them.
Another common type of animal trial, while less likely to end in the cruel and unnecessary death of an innocent creature, is every bit as disturbing as the other examples I've discussed in this post. In fact, it's a little bit more disturbing on some levels. These are trials for beastiality, which was apparently a lot more common than I am remotely comfortable even thinking about. The reason I say that these trials where less likely to end with the execution of the animal is because, in many of these cases, the animals were recognised as the "victims" of men with unnatural urges.
In case you weren't disturbed enough already, I'd just like to point out that it appears that animals had more rights over their bodies than most women at this stage in history. God, that's depressing.
But, back to the unnatural urges. Defendants in these trials usually tried to claim that the animal had "seduced them" in some way, but, according to historical records, it seems judges generally rejected these claims on the basis that animals weren't capable of consent, nor of seducing anybody. The accused beast-lovers were usually put to death, and the animals given a reprieve, probably on the grounds that killing them was a waste, because nobody wanted to eat sausages made from the pig that Billy Bob had his dick in last week.
By the 1800s, animal trials were nowhere near as common as they had been in the Middle Ages, but they still occurred from time to time, and there are even a few well-known examples of animal trials from the early 20th century. The most notable being a circus elephant which was put on trial, and hanged, for killing it's trainer. In fact, while researching this subject, I even found a case from 2008. That's right, a 21st Century animal trial...sort of. The trial occurred in Macedonia, where a wild bear was accused of stealing honey from a local beekeeper's hives. The bear was found guilty, but since no-one wanted to even attempt to extract damages from a wild bear, the park's service was given a hefty fine instead.
I think this is where I'm supposed to make some kind of bad joke about pic-a-nic baskets or something.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Wellington Police are appealing for help to find 20-year-old Caitlyn Bird, who has been reported missing by her family.
She was last seen in Glover Park, Wellington, on Monday 9 May, 2016. She has not been missing before and her family have concerns for her safety.
Caitlyn is 178cm tall, with mid-length brown hair, hazel eyes, and a distinctive American accent. When she was last seen, she was wearing dark jeans, a black raincoat and a heavy, men’s brown and white checked outdoor shirt.  
Anyone who may have seen Caitlyn or have information on her whereabouts is asked to contact Wellington Police on (04) 381 2000 or, after hours, Emergency 111 and ask for Police.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The following is an open letter to all New Zealanders, from Antonio Gotingco, husband of murdered Auckland woman, Blessie Gotingco.  For those not already familiar with the story, Blessie's death was horrific; she was run down with a car, brutally raped, murdered, and her body dumped in a South Auckland cemetary.  Her murderer, Tony Robertson, was a convicted child molester, who had only recently been paroled.  The Corrections Department were so concerned about Robertson's risk of reoffending, that prior to his release, they had applied to the High Court, and been granted, extended supervision orders, including electronic monitoring.   Robertson was to wear a GPS ankle bracelet, had a 8pm - 6am curfew, and only live at an approved address.  He was also to stay away from any parks or other areas children are likely to frequent.  In the months leading up to Blessie's murder, Robertson was arrested and appeared in court three times for breaching his release conditions.  Despite these breaches, he was not sent back to prison.  Robertson also attended two more court hearings, brought by the Corrections Department, asking for further extensions of the supervision orders.  These further extensions were granted, so the question is, why did none of these provisions save the life of Blessie Gotingco?  Just this week, a governmental inquiry found that neither NZ Corrections, nor the NZ Police was responsible in any way, for Blessie's death.  Her husband disagrees, and would like to see these authorities be held to account for a crime that should not have happened, and could have been prevented.  

"To My Fellow New Zealanders: We stand for Blessie -- a beloved wife, mother and grandmother to us her family. She is also a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, co-worker, colleague and a fellow New Zealander to the rest of us.

Blessie and I and our three children left our family home in the Philippines and moved to New Zealand in 2004, confident that our adopted country was a safe and beautiful place to live in. We settled on the North Shore of Auckland, believing it was an ideal place to raise a family and lead a happy comfortable life. We were so wrong.

 We lost our beautiful Blessie at the hands of an evil person who was supposed to be under strict monitoring in the community by authorities to whom we have entrusted our lives for protection. The Government, particularly the Department of Corrections has given a new meaning to ineptitude and stupidity. The Government sounded the death knell for Blessie by failing miserably to deliver the primary role of governance which is to ensure its citizens are safe and secure from the scum of society. Its decision to put a sadistic, unreformed criminal in our neighbourhood sealed the fate of our much-loved Blessie. It was like putting a snake in a hen house.
The Corrections Department knew all along based on their records that this monster would reoffend and yet it did not lift a finger even when public safety was sure to be compromised. Highlighting their ineptness, this pure and unadulterated evil was never properly monitored to stop him from committing this very heinous crime. The department knew all along that it would just be a matter of time before he committed another crime. And yet they continue to add insult to our injury by claiming that they have exceeded standards in their management of this hardened criminal. For us, hearing these pronouncements is like rubbing salt to our raw wounds. What has happened is very unchristian. How can this dastardly act happen in a country supposedly founded and built on Christian values?

It is of public record how our beloved Blessie was brutally taken from us. What has happened to us is the worst that can happen to any family. While it is our fervent hope that no other family will experience the horror and tragedy that we have gone through, there is no guarantee unless we get our acts together and push for relevant changes in the Corrections Department and the so called justice system as a whole.

We are now facing the biggest challenge of our life by considering filing a civil case against the Department of Corrections for the wrongful death of my wife, our beloved Blessie. It's tough enough, and the Government is not providing us with legal assistance -- a sad irony considering that they are all too happy paying for the legal expenses of Blessie's murderer. In fact, the Government has been overly generous in accommodating this criminal, with sky’s the limit to all his extravagant legal spending.

We are hoping that the good people of New Zealand will once again stand with us by donating towards our costs. We are going to undertake our own review of the mismanagement/non-monitoring of "evil" which enabled him to take our Blessie. We our counting on your help, even if it is only $1, it will help us expose the sham that is the management of sex offenders in New Zealand. We need to put a stop to this vicious cycle of ineptness and stupidity in the justice system. We firmly believe that a civil case against the Department of Corrections is our only option and a worthy course of action. Together let us show them the power to the people. Never again! We all deserve better.

Respectfully yours,

Antonio Gotingco"

Mr Gotingco has started a Givealittle page to raise funds for private litigation against NZ Corrections, please consider donating to his cause, because the system failed Blessie, and they need to recognise it and learn from it instead of denying all responsibility with a whitewash inquiry.

Blessie Gotingco's Family Consider Civil Suit - NZ Herald
Results of Tony Robertson Management Inquiry

Saturday, May 7, 2016

A family affair: One family, two murders that shocked the nation.

 Moko Sayviah Rangitoheriri will forever be three years old, his cheeky grin in photographs a remnant of happier days, the days before he went to stay with his mother's friend Tania Shailer, and her boyfriend David Haewera.  Moko's mother had no idea, could never have imagined, the brutality that her "friend" Tania, and her partner, would inflict on the defenseless three-year-old boy with the cheeky grin.

Moko Rangitoheriri  

 Moko and his 8-year-old sister had been entrusted to Tania Shailer, a former early childhood teacher, by their mother, so she could remain with their older brother, who was in Starship hospital.  The family live in Taupo, and Starship is in Auckland, a 5-hour drive away, so it made sense to leave the other two children in good hands and stay in Auckland.  Shailer and the mother were friends, and Shailer's experience with young children made her the natural choice of caregiver for a worried mother who wanted to stay at the bedside of her sick child.

Warning: The following contains graphic descriptions of acts of violence perpetrated against an innocent child.  Please use discretion in choosing whether to read this segment of the post, as some readers may find it very upsetting.

Over the course of the two months which Moko and his sister, Aroha* spent with Shailer and Haewera, Moko was kicked, punched, thrown into walls,  dropped on the floor face first, slapped with a sandal, bitten and stomped on by two full-grown adults.  He had feces rubbed in his face, was denied food and water, and was not given any medical treatment, even though if likely would have saved his life, severe as his injuries were, if he'd been taken to hospital just a few days earlier.

When Moko was finally taken to Taupo Hospital and admitted to the intensive care unit, he was suffering from internal hemorrhaging, swelling of the brain and septic shock from a ruptured bowel.  His face was badly swollen, and every inch of his tiny body was covered in bruises, abrasions and human bite marks.  

As if that wasn't heartbreaking enough, Moko had been in that condition for four days before the people responsible bothered to take him to hospital.  When Moko died, his tiny body was so damaged by the vicious attacks he'd endured, that he was barely recognisable to his own mother and aunt, when they went to identify him in the morgue.

At this point, you might be thinking that this awful tragedy couldn't get any worse, but you'd be wrong about that.  It can, and it did.  Because Moko's sister, only 7-years-old at the time, was forced to witness the malicious acts of violence that Shailer and Haewera perpetrated on her little brother.  Aroha tried to protect him as much as she was able to, but what hope does a 7-year-old have of defending against two adults?  

Moko's brave sister hid him in a closet so he wouldn't be beaten, she tried to sneak food and water to him, and was punished herself for doing so.  Aroha wanted desperately to tell someone what was happening, but Shailer and Haewera told her that they would kill her mother if she said anything.  She was afraid to go to school each day because she was worried about what the couple might do to Moko while she wasn't there.

And the final, most aggregious act perpetrated by this pair of oxygen bandits...during Moko's last beating, before he died, Shailer and Haewera forced Aroha to join in.  They made her kick her terribly injured little brother, and after he died, told her that it was her actions that had killed him.

There are no words that can express the horror and anger that I feel just writing about this, as well as the incredible sympathy and heartbreak for Aroha and what she must be going through.  I'm an atheist, so I don't believe in the devil or anything like that, but I do believe that what these two people did to Moko and his sister was pure, unadulterated evil.  

Moko died a slow, agonising death, murdered in cold blood over an eight week period at the hands of Tania Shailer and David Haewera.  But if you're reading Moko's story for the first time, and hoping that Shailer and Haewera were punished with the full force of the law, I'm sorry to have to disappoint you.

Last week, these baby-killers were given a downgraded charge of manslaughter in exchange for a guilty plea.  They will reappear for sentencing in the Rotorua High Court on June 27th, and we can only hope, will be given the harshest possible sentence by the judge.  If I am able to arrange it, I fully intend to be there outside that court for the sentencing, sign in hand, to highlight the grave injustice of letting these vicious scumbags away with manslaughter.

Tania Shailer and David Haewera systematically tortured and beat that little boy over the course of 60 days, until his body was so damaged that it could no longer sustain life.  That's not manslaughter, that's murder!  These people are murderers.  They are vicious killers and they should never be allowed to walk the streets again or come within 5 feet of a child for the rest of their lives!

Now we come to the latest tragic twist in this case.  Since the court case has finished, the media have been allowed to reveal that David Haewera is a close relative of Ben Haewera, another convicted child killer.  Ben Haewera was sentenced to 12 years in prison for beating his 5-year-old stepson, James Whakaruru, to death in 1999, and there are a number of frightening similarities in how James and Moko died.  

James Whakaruru

Ben Haewera had been abusing little James for years, yet nothing had been done, despite the fact that Ben had already served nine months in prison for abusing James when he was just 2-years-old.  After James died and Ben Haewera was convicted, the country was shocked and outraged to learn the full extent of the abuse James suffered, and just how badly authorities had dropped the ball and failed to save his life.

James' mother and step-father, as well as relatives on both sides of his family had come to the attention of child welfare and youth justice organisations on numerous occasions.  James had been admitted to Accident & Emergency many times, with serious injuries, but doctors who treated him failed to recognise the ongoing abuse.  Neighbours and friends of the family knew what was going on but all assumed that "somebody else" would do something about it.  Everyone in James' life failed him on some level, right up to his death.

Like Moko, James endured sustained, regular physical abuse over a long period of time, until his ravaged body could not take any more abuse.  The details of what James suffered at the hands of his step-father are just as sickening as the abuse suffered by Moko Rangitoheriri, so I will not go over those details.  I will include links to some of the many news articles covering the case, so that those who wish to can learn more about James' life and tragic death.

James Whakaruru could have been saved, had people paid attention and stepped up and done something instead of turning a blind eye, or assuming that someone else would take care of it.  Moko's death can't be blamed on the system failing him, because the system had no involvement, and no one knew or even suspected what was happening to Moko until it was too late.  However, both Tania Shailer and David Haewera have attempted to mitigate their guilt by claiming that they weren't coping with having Moko and Aroha to care for, as well as their own four children.  I don't know if that's true, but if there's any grain of truth in that claim,  all they needed to do was speak up and ask for help.

New Zealand's death toll of abused children just keeps on rising, and we, as a country, are not doing nearly enough to stem that tide.  By allowing Moko's murderers to plead to manslaughter, we send a message to every child abuser that they won't be punished to the full extent of the law, that we don't care enough about this nation's children to put their abusers away for a long, long time.

But this isn't about punitive sentencing, because sentencing only comes after a child has died.  We have to do more to stop violence in the home before it's too late.  We have to do more to combat the things that fuel family violence, like poverty and addictions.  Only when we work to mitigate all of the contributing factors in family violence will we start saving more children from a violent death.

There is a forum on Facebook for people who want to express their anger and frustration over Moko's tragic death and the heinous plea deal given to his killers.  There is a rally planned for the 27th of June, outside the Rotorua High Court, to coincide with the sentencing of Tania Shailer and David Haewera, please consider coming along and showing your support.  You can find all the relevant information at Justice For Moko.


Killed by his carers: Moko's last days - NZ Herald
Inquest to be held in toddler's death - NZ Herald
Now who will march for Moko? - Stuff.co.nz
Carer forced sister to deliver final blow to Moko - Stuff.co.nz
Child's road to a lonely, brutal death - NZ Herald
James Whakaruru killer in trouble again - Newshub
James Whakaruru Report - For Our Children