Baby kidnapper sentenced to community detention

  • 19/11/2015
High Court (File)
High Court (File)

A man who unwittingly helped his partner take a baby from Middlemore Hospital has been sentenced to community detention.

Faatiga Manutui, 32, and his partner Loni Marsh, 27, kidnapped baby Nadine Pretorius from the hospital's birthing ward in September last year.

He appeared before Justice Mark Woolford in the High Court at Auckland today for sentencing on one charge of kidnapping, after pleading guilty in October.

Baby Nadine was just five days old when she was taken by Marsh while her mother was showering.

She was found by police safe and well at about 4am the next day at a Manurewa address.

Manutui claimed he genuinely thought Marsh was pregnant in the months before the kidnapping, as she showed him scans of a baby and her stomach grew bigger.

When he took her to hospital on her supposed due date, a midwife told the couple there was no record of Marsh being pregnant.

Manutui was shocked and left the hospital, telling Marsh to call him if she went into labour.

Twenty minutes later she called him to say she had given birth.

He became suspicious - even more so when he saw baby Nadine who had fair skin and did not look like a newborn.

However Manutui maintained he still loved and trusted Marsh, so he helped her take the baby home.

Defence lawyer Nalesoni Tupou said he was remorseful for his actions and Justice Woolford agreed he had shown "genuine and heartfelt" remorse.

The judge referred to a pre-sentence report showing Manutui recognised the anguish he caused baby Nadine's family, had admitted he was gullible and did not act on his instinct.

He was "wilfully blind" in helping take the baby home.

The charge of kidnapping was serious and counted as his first strike under the three strike warning system, Justice Woolford said.

Victim impact reports from Nadine's family said they still suffered "grave consequences" after losing their baby for a few hours.

He was sentenced to three months' community detention and 250 hours community work.

Marsh was sentenced in February to 18 months' imprisonment.