Tuesday, 21 Sep 2021

Napier mother admits murdering daughter with juvenile Huntington’s disease

A Napier woman has today pleaded guilty to a charge of murdering her 28-year-old daughter, who had been terminally ill.

The plea was made when Cherylene May Lawrence, now 49, appeared before Justice Cheryl Gwyn in the High Court at Napier.

Lawrence was remanded on bail to appear for sentence in the Court on November 5.

She was charged with murdering Chevana Marie Fox, who was rushed by ambulance to
hospital critically ill after an incident at a house in Napier suburb Pirimai on February 1. The daughter died in hospital on February 28.

Remanded on continued bail for sentence in the court on November 5, Lawrence’s name was able to be published in connection with the offence for the first time with defence counsel Matthew Phelps seeking no further extension of a suppression order, and bail was not opposed by Crown prosecutor Steve Manning.

The name suppression had been in place since Lawrence first appeared, charged initially with injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. A charge of murder was laid in May.

According to police at the time the daughter had been the victim of an assault late-morning on Monday, February 1.

According to a summary, the daughter lived for several years in Hastings care facilities and recently before the death was at Hawke’s Bay Hospital’s mental health unit.

She had been discharged into her mother’s care late last year.

As a teenager she had been diagnosed with juvenile Huntington’s disease, which causes progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the brain, and movement, cognitive and psychiatric issues.

It had left her with difficulties talking, unable to read, and needing assistance in most tasks, and the use of a wheelchair. She was prone to crying and would lash-out at her mother and carers.

It frustrated her mother who in early January text-messaged her own mother saying: “I’m gonna end up killing chevana. I’ve had. Enough.”

Because of a misunderstanding a carer had not been available on the night of January 31 and the next morning.

Planning a murder-suicide, Lawrence told the carer she could leave early, then wrote a note to family and strangled her daughter.

Emergency services then received a call from her saying: “Um I just flipped out and strangled her. Strangled my daughter. She’s dead … The trouble is, I, I did it on purpose”.

The struggling mum was given instructions on how to perform resuscitation steps while awaiting an ambulance and carried-out CPR for several minutes, before the ambulance arrived and took Chevana to hospital in Hastings.

Lawrence later told police of the pain of watching her daughter suffering with “no quality of life”and being “stuck in delusions, torturous delusions”.

Where to get help

Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor.

Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP).

Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).

Healthline – 0800 611 116

Samaritans – 0800 726 666

Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions).

www.depression.org.nz – includes The Journal online help service.

thelowdown.co.nz – or email team@thelowdown.co.nz or free text 5626.

Family Services 211 Helpline – 0800 211 211 for help finding (and direct transfer to) community based health and social support services in your area.

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