Topic: Investigation

Mother still seeking answers into the death of her autistic son

By Aroha Treacher

Three years on and Audrey Rapihana is still fighting for answers into the death of her autistic son Otto Rapihana. Official apology letters is the only acknowledgement she has received since her son's passing.

Rapihana says, “It was appalling it was like, is this all he's worth? A written apology when at the end of the day I want accountability and responsibility.”

In 2012, 20-year-old Otto was locked inside his caregiver’s home and left unattended while the caregiver bought takeaways, while away the house caught fire and he died.

The Health and Disability Commissioner report found that the caregiver failed Otto did breach the Code of Health and Disability Services by leaving Otto unsupervised and locked inside knowing that he must always be supervised.

Headmaster of Arohanui Special School, James Le Marquand says, “No-one in the system or a person has been really held accountable gross negligence resulting in the death of a young man.”

The report found multiple failures by Care Group and though the case was also investigated by Police, no charges were laid due to a lack of evidence to support a manslaughter charge.

Tom Harris from Waitematā Community Law says, “In regards to negligence, I believe that there is a case that they could take, but maybe once again they thought they didn't have enough evidence for a negligence charge.”

It's been a strenuous three-year battle for Audrey Rapihana, but she vows to fight on, in the name of justice for her son Otto.

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