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Mother Punches Social Worker

March 14, 2012 permalink

Mother Nadine April Hawea went to the Child, Youth and Family office in Palmerston North New Zealand expecting to get her two children. When a social worker did not return the children, Nadine repeatedly punched the worker.



Mother punched social worker at CYF office

A custody meeting at the Child, Youth and Family office in Palmerston North descended into chaos when a woman "lost control" and repeatedly punched a social worker after finding out that her children would not be returned to her.

Nadine April Hawea, 36, pleaded guilty to one charge of assault in Palmerston North District Court yesterday.

Hawea was at the CYF office in Church St on February 15 to regain custody of her 5-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter, the court was told.

The police summary of facts said Hawea became angry during a meeting with a social worker and her family lawyer, grabbing the social worker by the collar and repeatedly punching her in the head and body.

When the social worker fell to the floor, Hawea continued to punch her. The lawyer had to intervene to stop the attack. Hawea then walked out, leaving her victim lying injured on the ground.

The social worker needed two days off work to recover from extensive bruising to her arms, legs and right armpit.

Hawea's lawyer, Richard Bedford, said his client arrived at the meeting only to find she had not completed the paperwork necessary to regain custody of her children.

"It was a terribly stressful time for her ... and she simply lost control."

Hawea was also on "really serious" medication for her health problems, Mr Bedford said.

Judge Gregory Ross remanded Hawea on bail to reappear for sentence in May and ordered her to attend an alcohol abuse rehabilitation programme.

Child, Youth and Family general manager of operations Marama Edwards said social workers were trained to manage difficult situations, but attacks on staff did occasionally happen.

The social worker in question was shaken and distressed by the ordeal, she said.

"It's appalling that anyone can be attacked while carrying out their duties."

The department had security measures in place to protect its staff, but she did not elaborate on what they were.

The department is already embroiled in a national security review, spurred by the rampage of Iraqi refugee Thamir Abdulridha El Mehdi, 49, who caused $2250 of damage at a temporary CYF office in Christchurch on November 7.