When ‘sweetest things’ go astray
It sounded typically tragic.
She’s 19, and her last job was in a jewellery store but she’s “formerly” a model who is now in trouble over drugs – like thousands of other teenagers.
Her family is stricken by the horror of it – just as many in the suburbs are.
Her police file talks of arrests, searches, marijuana, P, smoking gear, breaches of bail and sadly there is nothing special about those facts either.
She’s been going through courts heavily overloaded by cases like hers, taking her place alongside hundreds of others.
She was tense, fidgety, tearful too, as so many are.
And she crossed her fingers hoping to avoid jail – which she did.
Her stepfather made a plea for discharge without a conviction, which would stuff up her life even more.
She’s not a dealer but a $1000 a day user, an addict who started when she was 13.
She was simply someone who was, in dad’s words: “The sweetest thing who went to a very bad place.”
How many parents could say that – and might in the future? Or fear they will?
He spoke movingly of P as “a scurrilous drug”, labelling people who deal in it “hideous”, and pledged to get the community to focus on it and its outcomes.
The judge ruled her “moderately serious” offending warranted no more than a year’s supervision with continued rehabilitation.
There were tears of regret and relief. And the court moved on to the next tragic tale.
You don’t know about the cases before and after hers, the tragedies and lives ruined in the painful, self-imposed and unnecessary process.
But now you know the facts of her conviction and her face as well as you know her stepfather.
And that is out of all proportion to the seriousness of the offences because what’s involved is a worrying twist on an old saying about children being punished for the sins of their parents.
Today’s version has children being punished for the success of their parents – and parents suffering for the frailties of their children.
Did the crime warrant all the close-ups of her in the dock on TV news or the stage by stage, detail by detail headlines?
I’m not defending her – she had a lawyer and a stepfather to do that. But the coverage of her case got all out of whack.
For what the judge described as “moderately serious” we had treatment you’d have expected from a replay of the millions, murder and mayhem of the Mr Asia affair.
All because her stepfather is “a celeb”, one of our high-flyers.
Like another: The 31-year-old facing methamphetaminerelated charges, and more to come, who also happens to be the estranged stepdaughter of another celeb.
You’d recognise her stepmother’s name and face instantly – but not in this column you won’t.
Again, the same components – a familiar name in the heading, and a face from the glitzy weekend columns.
There’s also the same pattern of genuinelyheld regrets.
“As a family we are deeply saddened. If she is found to have broken the law, she will have to face the consequences.
“But regardless of the current circumstances, her family will continue to be there for her if she chooses to accept our help.”
All the things less well-known parents get to say in private.
None of them face the big headlines, the hype, the camera crews running after a shattered family and their convicted child.
They at least get privacy for the understandable anguish they face – privacy everyone should be entitled to regardless of the reflexes certain names provoke in newsrooms. What an interesting coincidence that sitting Labour MP Dianne Yates decided to resign and give the party the chance of a list seat in the house for Su’a William Sio so soon after he was named as its general election candidate opposing controversial and banished Labour MP Taito Phillip Field, now an independent in Mangere.
That’s where wholesale grooming of Pacific Island voters by people like Labour president Mike Williams gave government the seat, the tactically important party vote and the breakthrough it needed last time to get another three years in power.
Remember the Williams mantra when TV polling night commentators predicted a Labour defeat: “I’d wait until the south Auckland totals come in if I was you.”
He knew something – with those votes in, so was Labour.
The resignation allowed Sio to travel to his Samoan birthplace to receive the blessing of the elders of his parents’ villages.
That could well be seen by some as an asset in a battle against Taito Field.
The Yates decision and the Sio promotion couldn’t have been better if Labour’s backroom strategists had planned it.
Contact Pat Booth email: offpat@snl. co.nz.