Man left 3-year-old girl alone in car for two hours for massage, then fell asleep

A man who left a 3-year-old alone in a car for two hours says he fell asleep while being massaged for back pain.

Hamish Mark Bain had back pain ahead of a return trip to Hamilton from Auckland, so he booked a massage before heading home.

He told Open Justice he looked for the nearest parking lot at Discovery Media on Eden Terrace.

The 41-year-old woman appeared before Hamilton District Court Judge Simon Menzies and pleaded guilty to a charge of child abuse by leaving her unattended in a vehicle for two hours, which was likely to cause suffering, including dehydration or heat stroke.

CCTV footage showed Bain arriving at the car park at 12.45pm on March 13 this year.

He pulled into a staff vehicle spot at 1 p.m. before getting out and leaving the girl inside.

At around 2 p.m., a staff member saw the girl crying inside the vehicle. A security guard approached the car and saw the victim sitting in the driver’s seat crying.

He tried to open the door but it was locked and asked other staff if anyone had the car.

At approximately 2:17 p.m., security returned to the vehicle and found the victim lying on the center console.

At this point, concerns were raised for the well-being of the victim.

He went back to the security office, before another guard went there to try to get the girl out.

At 2:41 p.m., the victim was successfully evacuated through an unlocked rear door, his body “wet with sweat”.

She was taken to the Discovery Media reception where she was given food and water.

Bain returned to the vehicle at 3:02 p.m.

The windows of the vehicle were rolled down approximately 2.5 cm and the victim did not require medical assistance.

Bain told Open Justice what happened didn’t reflect who he was — he was a responsible, loving guy.

He said he and the child spent the night before at a 4-year-old’s birthday party which turned into a big night out.

He woke up the next day with lower back pain, thought he was going to stop for a massage, and ended up falling asleep.

“While I was in there I was so knackered I fell asleep. They woke me up and said ‘There’s been a car alarm going off’. I’m like ‘oh f***’.”

He ran to his ute to find the girl was not inside.

“I just walk around in my ute going ‘What happened, was she abducted?’

A policeman then appeared and told her she had the girl.

“I have never been so happy to see a policeman in my life.”

He disputed court papers saying he only left the windows 1 inch, but instead said it was more than 2 inches, enough for a person to stick their arm in and open the door .

In court, Bain’s lawyer, Mark Sturm, asked the judge to convict his client immediately because every day he was absent from his construction company was costing him money.

He was currently working on a job in Waihi and was “suffering financially and is aware that he brought this to himself”.

“It’s certainly not the defendant’s finest hour. He has a lot of remorse and is much wiser now in hindsight about what he should have done that day.

“The defendant felt a little physically ill that day and needed a pick-me-up.”

He had visited Auckland overnight with the girl and knowing she was a sound sleeper, he made the decision to leave her in the car and have a massage.

“It was a therapeutic massage…and he thought it would be good to leave. [her] for basically an hour in the car when she slept with the windows down so the kid could get some fresh air.”

“The risk was contained” – lawyer

Sturm said there were delays on the date and Bain eventually fell asleep.

“The weather dragged on a little longer than he expected and when he returned he found there was a commotion.”

Sturm said he accepted there was a risk to the girl “but it was a contained risk because she wasn’t going to be left there for an extended period of time.”

He asked Judge Menzies to issue a casualty sentence if he was called – if an offender re-offended, but that was denied.

“The problem I have with this is that there seems to be an element of justification for the behavior and it wasn’t their fault and I see that as a problem,” Judge told Sturm.

After consulting with his client, Sturm said a supervision sentence would be accepted.

“You are very clearly putting his well-being at risk” – judge

“I don’t know what circumstances suggest this arrangement was acceptable for a 3-year-old,” Judge Menzies told Bain.

“Very clearly, you were putting his well-being at risk.”

As for his excuse that it was longer than expected, Judge Menzies said he still plans to leave her alone for an hour.

“It turned out to be double… As I said to Mr Sturm, I feel like I’m downplaying the seriousness in terms of the disposition and I’m not quite sure you recognize the seriousness of this particular conduct,” he told Bain.

He sentenced him to 12 months of supervision with a special condition that he attend an evaluation and complete any parenting program as determined by probation.

By Belinda Feek
Multimedia Journalist Open Justice