Death of Christchurch toddler found in washing machine treated as unexplained - coroner

Death of Christchurch toddler found in washing machine treated as unexplained - coroner

Warning - this article contains details which some readers may find distressing. 

The death of a Christchurch toddler found inside a washing machine is being treated as unexplained.

Emergency services rushed to the house in Hoon Hay at around 5pm on Friday where the toddler was found. She was transported to hospital but died the following day.

While police originally said her death was not suspicious, Deputy Chief Coroner Anna Tuttonn said in a minute on Wednesday she had been advised the death was being investigated as unexplained.

"The police investigation into [the child's] death is at a very early stage. The investigation will include consideration and determination as to whether the death was suspicious or accidental," the coroner said.

According to the minute the girl was home with her school-aged siblings when her father noticed he hadn't seen her playing with them for around 10 minutes.

She was discovered inside the washing machine.

The minute followed a request for a non-publication order from the girl's family for her name and identifying information.

They were concerned they would be subjected to online harassment if she was identified.

In regards to why the family should not be identified, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Worner  referenced the 2007 case of Nia Glassie, which horrified New Zealand.

Glassie died in Rotorua after being subject to horrendous abuse from her caretakers including being spun in a tumble dryer and hung from a clothesline.

"Many people still have vivid recollections of the Nia Glassie abuse case that involved a clothes dryer and a washing line (among other forms of abuse) and publication ... [of the girl's name] will cause some members of the public to form an associated but false opinion in this case," said Worner .

Tutton said she took into consideration the fact that if any family members face charges for the toddler's death they may seek name suppression - which would be meaningless if the girl's name had already been published. 

The coroner also took into consideration that it appears the toddler's young siblings were with her "at, or shortly before" the time she got into the machine.

"Their involvement,if any, is completely unknown at this point," she said.

However identifying the girl could put her young siblings welfare and well-being at risk. 

A police spokesperson told Newshub the death is being treated as unexplained, and the investigation is on-going.