Police urge community to stop online attacks

By Taiha Molyneux
Flaxmere Councillor Henare O’Keefe. Source/File.

Police investigating the brutal beating of a four year old boy left brain damaged are urging against speculation after allegations and images of the boys' parents surfaced online.

Earlier this month police publicly announced the immediate family members of the boy were hindering the investigation by withholding information.

Flaxmere Councillor Henare O’Keefe says while he can understand why police announced it publicly, the result generated some extremely toxic behaviour online.

“There’s a lot of keyboard warriors out there and it generated some caustic not very complimentary comments and I’m not surprised at that.

“I can understand why the police did it because they’re obviously having difficulty getting these people to come out. We didn’t agree with it.”

Police say the investigation is ongoing and they are now “engaging well with extended family.”  

They also acknowledged the distressing nature of the incident was bound to cause upset and concern, but they’ve urged against any action that could impact their enquiries.

A spokesperson told Te Ao news:

“Police are aware of a small number of incidents involving online threats relating to this matter. Where these matters have come to Police attention and individuals are identified those people are being spoken to.

“No one has been arrested or charged at this stage.”

O’Keefe says the entire community was impacted by what happened to the young boy and while it was a devastating situation, he was heartened by the reaction from his wider community and their pledge to help prevent anything like this ever happening again.

“Every conceivable feeling and emotion known to mankind has been pouring in and out of our community, but I’m really proud of them you know.

“In and amongst the anger, once they got angry, they kind of moved past that and they all decided, ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s up to all of us we need to make sure everyone looks after their kids.’”

Police have also thanked members of the community who have stepped forward to provide information to assist the investigation. They also outlined a number of officers are dedicated to the investigation and they are making progress.