Social Development minister Paula Bennett says she is still horrified at the "hell" a nine-year-old west Auckland girl who was brutally beaten by her parents went through.
The girl's parents were arrested in December 2010 after the girl was found hiding in a wardrobe with injuries to nearly every part of her body. She was starving, dehydrated and anaemic from internal bleeding.
Her father was today jailed for three years with a minimum non-parole period of two years.
The 33-year-old man pleaded guilty in November to the charges - one of assault, which included smacking, slapping and kneeing a child - and one of wilfully allowing her to be ill-treated by her mother, and failing to seek medical treatment.
The man's wife had earlier pleaded guilty to 25 child abuse charges and was in December jailed for seven and a half years, with a non-parole period of five years.
Speaking about the case on TV ONE's Close Up tonight, Bennett said "adult after adult" let the girl down, from statutory organisations to community groups.
The girl had been in CYF care for most of her life but was returned to her parents in 2008 after it was alleged she was sexually abused in her foster home.
The case seemingly exposed successive errors in their handling of the family, sparking a ministerial report that was issued late last year after the mother was sentenced. None of the 25 agencies involved with the girl and her family had been aware of the abuse.
Bennett said while agencies were getting better at information sharing since the case came to light, there was still work to be done.
"I would love to sit here and tell you that everything is being streamlined and we've got clear runs of communication," she said.
"We are better at it than we were a year ago, but we still have a long way to go."
The ministerial report made a number of recommendations, including better information sharing, new CYF liaison workers for schools, mandatory reporting of abuse and neglect, urgent research on 'family-first' care and a new child protection court.
Bennett said most of those ideas were being implemented.
"Because of his report we've announced another 149 social workers going into schools."
Father 'played Xbox'
The Crown said in sentencing the man would often be playing Xbox while the girl's mother was carrying out some of the most serious beatings elsewhere in the house.
The man's lawyer said his client did not know about the abuse inflicted on the girl by her mother, and that when he was made aware, he tried to reason with her.
But Justice Brooke Gibson rejected that, saying the extent of the girl's injuries meant he must have been aware.
"What your daughter needed was a kind and loving environment," Gibson said in sentencing.
"But instead she was subjected to horrific abuse, she was starved and she was humiliated. I accept that you didn't inflict the horrific injuries but you stood by.
"You can hardly have failed to notice the child's physical deterioration.. the fact she was being effectively starved."
The man also said his daughter was hard to handle and tried to poison him.
Abuse amounted to 'torture'
Brooke said the abuse amounted to "torture" and hoped that the sentence would send the message that abuse is not okay.
The couple initially faced 36 charges between them relating to the abuse of their nine-year-old daughter and seven-year-old son. The pair have name suppression to protect the identities of their children.
At the sentencing of the mother, the court heard that the girl had nightmares about what was done to her. The abuse she suffered including having her toenail torn out and having part of her scalp pulled off.
In her victim-impact statement the girl said: "In my dreams my mother and father are out of jail and trying to find me to hurt me some more."
Her brother, in a statement he insisted was read to court, said he wanted his parents to stay in jail for a long time.
"I was hurt for a long time so I think they should stay where they are for a long time too.''
Defence lawyer Lorraine Smith said the mother's actions were those of a woman let down by the system and by multiple agencies.
"My submission is that both the prime minister and the minister for social development failed both [the child] and her mother."
The mother wrote to Prime Minister John Key asking for help. He passed the letter on to Social Development Minister Paula Bennett, who offered six counselling sessions for the girl.
After the mother was sentenced, Bennett said: "In hindsight, I wish I was writing back and saying, 'The police are knocking on your door, we're removing your children from you right now'."
But blame for the abuse lay squarely with the parents, she said. "That child was so deeply failed by those very parents that were supposed to protect her, so it's fine to sit back now and try and blame someone else or the Government, while in the meantime you are dehydrating, starving and beating your child.
"I'm afraid, no, I don't take responsibility for that. She should stand up and take it herself."