The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit public hearing continues today in Auckland.

Witness evidence summaries are outlined below.

After a witness speaks, their full evidence along with footage of them speaking, will be available for download.

The hearing is being live-streamed on the Abuse in Care website. Please note the livestream is unavailable for one of today’s witnesses, however footage will be available following their appearance.

Hearing location: Level 2, 414 Khyber Pass Road, Newmarket, Auckland 1023.

10am approx.

Denis Hesseltine (livestream unavailable – a recording will be available following appearance)

Mr Hesseltine was employed as a psychiatric assistant at the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit starting in 1974 and ending in 1979. He discusses his role in the unit, and the daily routine and activities of patients and staff at the hospital. Additionally, Mr Hesseltine offers his recollections on witnessing different procedures, including what Dr Leeks told him was a procedure called “Ectonus therapy” as a behavioural modification therapy being used for child patients in the unit. 

11.45am approx.

Janice Wilson
Dr Janice Wilson trained as a psychiatrist and was the Director of Mental Health between 1993 and 2000. She gives evidence about her time as Director of Mental Health and the limited experience she had with complaints made by former patients against Dr Leeks as well as litigation surrounding the Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit.

2.15pm approx.

David Baron (via video link)

Dr David Baron is a psychiatrist based in Melbourne, Australia. Dr Baron qualified in the 1960s, and in the early 1970s established and ran an inpatient psychiatric unit for children and adolescents in Sunnyside Hospital, Christchurch. Dr Baron will give evidence on how he operated his unit and the treatment methods used. He will also provide his own reflections on working as a psychiatrist in New Zealand during the 1970s and how medical practice then compares with contemporary standards.

3.45pm approx.

Ms LL, survivor witness (statement read by Ms Y)

Ms LL is of European and Māori descent (Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu). Sadly, Ms LL has passed away and her statement will be read by her daughter (Ms Y). Ms LL was sexually abused at the age of 12 and was admitted to Lake Alice Child and Adolescent Unit during the time she was at high school. Whilst at Lake Alice, Ms LL was threatened with electroconvulsive therapy, sexually assaulted, put in seclusion and stayed in a ward with adult psychiatric patients. She gives evidence about the impact of her abuse on her relationships and of the Police investigation on her mental health, as well as the economic impacts later in her life.

Ms Y, daughter of survivor witness

Ms Y is the daughter of Ms LL. She is of Tūwharetoa, Ngāi Tahu and Ngāti Kahungunu descent. Ms Y describes a difficult childhood, witnessing domestic violence and her parents’ drug and alcohol addictions. Ms Y moved to Australia with her mother at age 11 before leaving home and school when she was 13 years old, and returning to New Zealand. Ms Y will give evidence of the intergenerational impacts of her mother’s abuse at Lake Alice including a lack of childhood schooling, overcoming her own addictions and how her childhood has affected how she has raised her own children.

Media enquiries: 027 298 2094;

About the Abuse in Care Inquiry

The Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry is investigating the abuse and neglect that happened to children, young people and vulnerable adults in care from 1950 and 1999.