Erring couple sentenced

The Manukau Magistrate District court sentenced on Wednesday, September 10, a couple to 60 hours community work for falsely registering the birth of a child as their own.

Judge Ida Malosi also issued an order suppressing the names of the defendants and any factors that may identify them. The order aimed to protect the identity of the child.

The case involved the husband fathering the child with another woman; after the child’s birth in September 2005, the married couple registered the wife as the child’s mother. Seven years later the birth mother alerted the Department.

The couple initially denied providing false information but later made admissions in signed statutory declarations.

Right outcome

Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages Jeff Montgomery, who initiated the prosecution, welcomed the verdict.

“The Judge commented that there was a significant public interest in ensuring the integrity of the birth registration system. Accurate and timely birth registration is a right of every child born in New Zealand. A child is entitled to know who his parents are. Recording both parents on a child’s birth registration provides evidence of the person’s identity, descent and whakapapa,” he said.

“We will not hesitate to prosecute when we become aware of false statements, the maximum penalty for which Parliament has set at five years’ imprisonment. It is essential that the official birth record is correct for many reasons. Some entitlements, for example, inheritance and benefits received under trusts, depend on a person establishing that they are the son or daughter of the benefactor,” he added.

According to Mr Montgomery, certain government grants and benefits depend on a parent-child relationship being established.

“In addition, a child may be able to claim citizenship status through a parent, and a birth certificate will provide prima facie evidence of that relationship. Ensuring the integrity of our records is a vital part of good government where the public relies on such records,” he said.

Mr Montgomery said that his Office has since amended the child’s birth certificate to record the birth mother.

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