BY IAN WISHART
The long awaited Coroner’s verdict on the death of the Kahui twins Chris and Cru has slammed their father out of the park and cleared their mother.
In a report that mirrors many of the conclusions published in the book Breaking Silence last year, Coroner Garry Evans has gone to the limits of coronial law and made a screed of negative findings against Chris Kahui.
The Coroner indicated the twins’ mother Macsyna King had been the victim of a smear campaign by Kahui’s lawyers that didn’t stack up when he tested the evidence.
It was the conspiracy theory to end all conspiracy theories. The idea that a mobile phone call placed Macsyna King with motive and opportunity to murder her twin babies back in June 2006. That theory was the coup-de-grace for Chris Kahui’s defence team in the final days of his murder trial 2008, and it became the centrepiece of public speculation. Now, the Coroner has utterly rubbished it.
“It is inherently implausible that Macsyna would have interrupted her evening out with her sister to return to Courtenay Crescent, happened to arrive during the 20 minute period when her partner happened to be out, fatally assaulted the twins and then left, devised an alibi that was consistent with cellphone records that she was unaware of [Coroner’s emphasis] and then successfully persuaded Stuart King, Emily King and Pou Hepi to cover this up….such a scenario is incapable of belief.”
Cellphone records confirm Macsyna and her sister were in Papakura at 6:58pm on the night of June 12, 2006. According to police, at that time of night it was possible to do the Papakura to Mangere run in 23 minutes. The problem for conspiracy theorists was that witnesses say Chris Kahui had left their home at 7pm and returned at 7:20.
Try as hard as she liked, Macsyna could not have sped to Mangere, arriving around one minute before Chris Kahui got back, beaten up the babies, snuck out again unseen by the other people in the house, and been as far away as Unitec in Carrington only 18 minutes later when the next cellphone call was made.
“On the critical issue of whether Macsyna King returned, or might have returned, to Courtenay Crescent on the evening of 12 June, there is no evidence that she did so and no reasonable possibility that she might have done so, let alone been responsible for causing fatal injuries to the twins,” ruled Coroner Gary Evans.
“No reasonable explanation is offered as to why Macsyna King, having returned home, might then choose to inflict severe injuries on her own children. The Court is satisfied that the telephone calls and whereabouts of Macsyna King, Emily Hepi and Pou Hepi during the evening had nothing to do with the deaths of the twins.”
What about the theory that Macsyna King beat the babies senseless before she left to see her sister on the morning of June 12, earlier that day?
Given that eyewitnesses including Chris Kahui reported the babies alive and well, alert and feeding happily an hour after Macsyna King left the house, the Coroner has ruled it is impossible for King to have harmed the babies earlier, given the nature of their injuries and the rapid descent toward death that followed. Had she harmed the children, he ruled, it would have been obvious to everyone in the house and they would not have fed later that day.
“The Court does not find any of the possibilities advanced to be evidentially tenable.
“The Court finds on the combined evidence of April Saunders and Chris Kahui that the twins were in every respect normal and well during the morning of Monday 12 June, down until the time April and Shane Saunders left the house.
“Putting it another way, there is nothing in the evidence before the Court that would show, hint or suggest any change in their clearly documented state of good health.
“The twins were not, on the evidence, showing symptoms from the older, healing rib fractures found at autopsy or, in the case of Chris, from the sub-dural haemorrhage thought to be two to three weeks old. They had not then sustained the serious brain injuries that led to their deaths.”
The Coroner found Chris Kahui’s evidence on feeding the babies later “seriously conflicting in nature, lacking in credibility and not to be relied upon. Indeed, the Coroner felt moved to say to him while he was giving his evidence that he did not know what to believe, whether what he had told the Police was correct, or what he was then saying in the statement produced to the Court.
“The evidence given by Mr Kahui at the inquest as to feeding was in contradiction of the evidence contained in his three Police statements that the twins had been fed by him subsequent to the departure of April and Shane Saunders.”
The feeding contradictions came to a head in the evening accounts. This is when other witnesses found Kahui alone with the babies, and baby Cru having breathing failure.
“When interviewed by Police on 13 June 2006 Chris Kahui repeatedly stated that he was in the nursery feeding Chris when Mona came into the room. At the inquest hearing he denied feeding Chris at this time.”
The Coroner’s report suggests Kahui admitted “that something happened to the twins whilst Macsyna was away.”
Why didn’t Kahui call an ambulance when he knew something had gone wrong? The Coroner states:
“Chris Kahui must have had other reasons for holding out against the suggestions of other family members that medical assistance be sought or an ambulance be called. What might these reasons have been?”
The Coroner states Kahui wanted Macsyna in the gun.
“The evidence would strongly suggest that Chris Kahui wanted Macsyna back to see what should be done about the twins in the condition in which they then lay, and for her to face what he saw as her responsibility for what had happened to them in her absence.”
The Coroner says Macsyna King was shocked to find one twin bruised when she returned the next morning, “How the hell did our boy get that new bruise on his face and what the hell happened?”
In his verdict, the Coroner notes that Chris Kahui on two occasions told Macsyna that the twins 13 month old brother had given bruises to the twins. The Coroner says the claim was untrue, and Chris Kahui resorting to such an “invention” twice “is disturbing”.
“Chris Kahui’s response to the expression of his partner’s concerns is not what one might expect from a father whose attention has been drawn to bruising on the face of one of his sons. His response was to explain away Chris’ facial bruising by recourse to an invention. It is likely that a father who bore no responsibility for the injury that had led to bruising would be very concerned, would want to know how his son had got such an injury and would join his partner into enquiring into what had gone on.
“As recorded, the twins were not fed on Tuesday 13 June. They were last fed the day before. The evidence given by Chris Kahui in each of his first two Police interviews that they were fed [and burped and changed by him] on Tuesday morning was untrue and, the Court finds, untrue to his knowledge as his evidence at inquest shows.
“The evidence shows it was Macsyna who made arrangements to take the twins to Dr Nayar to be checked.
“Significantly, Chris Kahui did not tell his partner that the twins had not fed since the day before. Nor did he tell anyone else in the house, as already stated. He did not tell Dr Nayar this either. This was vitally important information which he kept to himself.
“The Court finds that Macsyna King was materially misled by Chris Kahui as to the health of the twins…She may have changed their clothes, she was given to understand by Chris Kahui that the twins were being fed. It was she who decided that the twins should be taken to a doctor.
“Chris Kahui’s behaviour in not disclosing to anyone else in the house the fact that the twins were not feeding, in not disclosing that fact to Macsyna King when she arrived on Tuesday morning, in making no enquiries of anyone as to what should be done in what were deeply worrying circumstances and in failing to get medical help for the twins speaks eloquently of his desire to keep this fact secret from everyone else.
“The twins were not waking for food. They were not crying to be fed. They were not being fed. Chris Kahui’s behaviour in keeping these facts from others is incompatible with the behaviour one would reasonably expect from a normal father who had nothing to hide concerning his children’s condition.
“The Court finds that Chris Kahui knew the twins needed to be taken to hospital straight away [after the doctor advised him to]. Having refused to turn off to the hospital on the way there, he drove home and then walked out of the house, leaving his partner to cope alone with two very sick babies.
“At the inquest he said he knew Macsyna wanted him to go with her to the hospital, but that he was furious. Again, the behaviour of Chris Kahui in turning his back on the pressing needs of his sons for medical attention ‘straight away’ is incompatible with that of a normal father whose only concerns are his children’s welfare.
“Chris Kahui accepted at inquest that Dr Nayar told his partner and him to take the twins straight to Middlemore Hospital. He later agreed, as his actions showed, that he did not want to go straight to the hospital after seeing Dr Nayar. He admitted that Macsyna wished to go straight there.
“His behaviour is consistent with a wish to avoid the hospital authorities.”
In regard to the severity of the twins’ injuries, the Coroner accepted the expert medical panel’s testimony that “the effect of the twins’ fatal injuries would have been immediate and obvious…they would have remained abnormal from that point onwards.”
The Coroner also drew attention to the judge’s summing up in Kahui’s murder trial, that cast aspersions on Macsyna King:
“Justice Venning, who presided at the criminal trial, is recorded in para 115 of the notes of his summing up as saying,
‘The defence say that Macsyna King could have inflicted the fatal injuries either before she left on the Monday morning [12 June] or at some stage when the accused was up at the hospital dropping Mona off at about 7pm that night.’
“It is patent,” records the Coroner, “that…the two propositions put to the jury by Chris Kahui’s counsel, apportioning blame for the twins’ deaths upon Macsyna King, cannot lie in the light of the medical and other evidence heard in this Court.”
In delivering his findings, Coroner Garry Evans said:
“The evidence given by Chris Kahui was unreliable, conflicting and, on many occasions, untrue. The Court formed a poor view of his credibility. Different versions of events have been given by him on different occasions to different people.
“The Court is satisfied, on all the evidence before it, to the required standard of proof, that the traumatic brain injuries suffered by Chris and Cru Kahui were incurred by them during the afternoon/early evening of 12 June 2006, whilst they were in the sole custody, care and control of their father at 22 Courtenay Crescent, Manger, Auckland.”