Edward George Smith
crime.co.nz story here
NZ Herald story 2nd May 2008
A Christchurch woman who was found guilty of helping to torture her two-year-old daughter to death in 1992 has had another baby. Tania Witika was sentenced to 16 years in prison after her baby, Delcelia, was found lying dead in a pool of blood, faeces and urine, while she and the baby's stepfather, Eddie Smith, were partying at a friend's place in South Auckland. The toddler had been badly burned after being put in a bath of hot water. Child, Youth and Family (CYF) obtained custody of the unborn baby when it heard Witika, now using the surname Hopping, was pregnant, The Press reported today. The mother and baby have been under 24-hour supervision in Christchurch Women's Hospital since the birth on Tuesday.
The Press understood the baby was to go home in the next few days with her father, Witika's new husband, and for CYF social workers to supervise daily visits. Witika would also have to undergo psychological assessment and have to prove to CYF that she was a fit parent. Delcelia's death in 1991 was one of the country's worst child-abuse cases to go before the courts. Witika and Smith were each sentenced in April 1992 to 16 years' jail for the torture and death of Delcelia. It was one of the longest sentences given for manslaughter. At the time, Witika claimed she lived in terror of Smith and, although she wanted to help Delcelia, she was too afraid. However, evidence presented at trial showed she had kept notes about her sexual gratification even as her child suffered. Witika was released from Christchurch Women's Prison in September 2002 after serving 10 years.
NZ Herald story 15th October 2004
The man who killed Delcelia Witika in one of the country's worst cases of child abuse has been released from prison on a technicality. Eddie Smith was initially freed in 2002 but in August he was remanded in custody on an arson charge. Late last week he was granted bail but was kept inside because the Crown had applied to have him serve the remainder of his 16-year sentence for manslaughter. But after the Weekend Herald revealed details of the application, officials realised it was not technically possible to have him recalled and he was freed. This has caused anguish for Delcelia's natural father, Peter Lafaele, who told the Herald last night that he was out hunting for Smith.
Smith, 41, and his partner, Tania Witika, Delcelia's mother, were jailed in 1991. After they were released in September two years ago, Smith slipped back into South Auckland under a false name. In August, he was charged with arson over a blaze at a Penrose business connected to his sister. He was initially held in custody to face trial next year, but late last week was granted bail. He stayed in jail because of the recall bid, but only as long as the weekend. Katrina Casey, the general manager of probation and offender services for the Corrections Department, said yesterday the application should not have been filed and acknowledged the possibility of legal action.
"As Mr Smith was sentenced before 1993, he could not be recalled because the two-thirds date of his sentence had passed. "Had he been sentenced after new legislation took effect in 1993, he would have been liable to be recalled now. Further legislation changes made in 2002 mean that he could have been held in prison beyond two-thirds of his sentence." She said staff had acted in good faith and that as soon as they became aware of the situation, they moved quickly to withdraw the application and have him released. "If Mr Smith wishes to take it further, obviously we would consider that and would seek legal advice at that point."
Smith was unable to be contacted last night. The house in Manurewa where he lived with his mother before his arrest in August was empty and neighbours said they had moved. His sister did not wish to comment. Mr Lafaele said he could not believe Smith had been released again. "Someone needs to be shot, don't they? But on one hand I'm quite happy because I'm going to go and look for [him] now. What good is he to society?" Mr Lafaele said he was angry the Parole Board had not told him about Smith's 2002 release. A board spokesman said that for someone to be told, he or she had to be registered as a victim through the police. In this case, no victims were registered.
Date of Birth
The abuse, beating and killing of two year old Delcelia Witika in Mangere, Auckland in 1991
At large in South Auckland
Sentenced to 16 years in April 1992
Released September 2002
Breached conditions October 2004, recalled but freed shortly after due to the old law which applied at that time
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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