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HCC to pay $48,000 over zookeeper's death

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 16/09/2016
<span style="font-size:13px;">Samantha Kudeweh&nbsp;</span> © Facebook/Hamilton Zoo Samantha Kudeweh 

Richard Kudeweh has slammed the justice system after his zoo keeper wife died in a tiger attack at work.

Outside Hamilton District Court on Friday he said:

"We've lost a beautiful woman and the punishment for not taking all practical steps is really nothing, you get away with it.

"I'm emotional now.

"I just think it's a little bit of a farce," he said.

Samantha Kudeweh was killed by a Sumatran tiger when the 43-year-old entered his enclosure at the council-run Hamilton Zoo last September. Hamilton City Council pleaded guilty to a the charge laid by WorkSafe of failing to take all practical steps to ensure her safety at work.

Judge Denise Clark ordered the council, which has already paid $116,000 in reparations to Mrs Kudeweh's family, pay an additional $48,613.

Judge Clark awarded Kudeweh's young children Billy and Sage more than $5000 each for "consequential loss".

She had adjourned sentencing earlier in the week to allow her to consider submissions on what level of compensation should be imposed.

Mrs Kudeweh had been a keeper for more than two decades and was a senior member of the zoo's team.

Since her death the zoo has adopted a two keeper system at the recommendation of WorkSafe.

But council lawyer James Gurnick said in his submission earlier in the week that this was no guarantee of preventing a future incident because within the industry there is conjecture around whether a two or one keeper system is in fact safer.

He pointed out in 2006 that a Wellington Zoo keeper was attacked by two lions despite a second person being present.

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