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Father found guilty of manslaughter

Published: 4:45PM Thursday February 22, 2007 Source: One News/Newstalk ZB

An Auckland father who drove off the summit of Mt Wellington has been found not guilty of murdering his daughter.

Instead, 29-year-old Garth Abbott has been convicted of manslaughter for causing the death of nine-year-old Brittany Abbott.

Brittany was killed, and her four-year-old sister Siobhan injured, when their car crashed 100 metres down the slopes of Mt Wellington in 2005.

It took the jury almost 14 hours to reject the murder charge and agree unanimously on manslaughter.

Abbott was also acquitted of a second charge of attempted murder relating to daughter Siobhan.

He always maintained it was an accident and that he had been distracted by an emotional cellphone call.

Both girls suffered a rare condition which meant they were deaf and would become blind in adulthood. As South African residents, Abbott and his wife had been told they would not be granted residency because their daughters would be a burden on the health system.

The surviving daughter and Abbott's wife - who has stood by him throughout - are still in New Zealand on extended visas. 

Abbott will be sentenced late next month but until then is free on bail to spend time with his family.

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