A religious couple who prayed for their mortally ill baby rather than take him to a hospital have been found not guilty of manslaughter in New Zealand.
The parents were instead convicted of endangering the life of their four-month-old son by failing to get medical treatment for him.
A High Court jury in the northern city of Whangarei deliberated for nearly 12 hours before convicting a tearful David and Catherine Tribble of the lesser charge.
Their son Caleb, one of eight children, died in December 2003 of septicaemia from a urinary infection.
Two weeks before he died, Caleb picked up a flu virus which also affected his five sisters and two brothers.
The couple prayed for his health to improve, the court heard.
He had lost a lot of weight but when he stopped vomiting and was laughing they felt he was improving.
A nurse visited the baby at the Tribbles’ remote property and, worried about his health, suggested to his parents that they take him to hospital.
A week after he died Catherine Tribble said they never believed at any time their infant son’s condition was life threatening.
“We’re not weird, we’re not extremists,” David Tribble said.
The family had no problems with their son going to hospital and were not opposed to medical treatment, they said.
During the trial, the nurse told the court she was too scared during one visit to tell the couple their baby would die if they did not get him to hospital.
She said she felt unsafe in the house on the day Caleb died and feared if she told them of her fears for his health they “might head for the hills”.
The nurse said any parent would have recognised the baby needed to go to hospital.
The Tribbles’ defence was that if they had known Caleb was mortally ill they would have taken him to a doctor.
A tearful David Tribble told the court last week how he tried to resuscitate Caleb after he had died but did not do it for long because they realised he was dead.
They then prayed to God to bring him back.
The couple are free on bail before sentencing on December 19.