A Greytown couple who starved and beat a young girl in a "regime of cruelty" have been jailed.
The victim was three years old when she was adopted by Russell Kennedy, 63, and Leonie Kennedy, 59, and starved, forced to scavenge in rubbish bins for food, had her feet beaten and was nearly drowned.
Wellington District Court judge Denys Barry told them the girl had a right to expect safety and affection from them instead of the regime of cruelty she got.
She had been three when she went to live with them in 1983 and was finally removed in 1987 by the then Social Welfare Department after the school she was attending intervened.
Teachers had seen her hunting for food along with welts and marks on her.
Judge Barry jailed them for one year and eight months each. They are no longer together. Both had been found guilty at trial of wilful neglect and wilful ill-treatment of the girl.
He said their treatment of the girl was inexplicable given they appeared otherwise model citizens and nothing like it had happened before or after.
A family dog was set on her, she was held down in the bath, beaten with a hockey stick and did not have adequate clothing.
A victim impact statement from the now adult victim talked of her constant fear and reluctance to go home after school, the judge said.
She was scarred and unable now to hold down a job, suffered from anxiety attacks and an eating disorder.
"Both of you were equally culpable and must have been aware of what the other was doing ... and equally complicit in leaving this child under fed, not properly clothed and generally deprived," Judge Barry told them.
Crown lawyer Ian Murray said it was abhorrent and their treatment had blighted the victim's life.
Both Kennedys have continued to say they were innocent.
Their lawyers outlined that they had been well-regarded members of their community, involved in sporting and community events.
Louise Elder for Leonie Kennedy said she had raised other children and there had never been any hint of any offending like this.