Michaela Barriball jailed for murdering Malachi Subecz is given one of NZ’s longest jail sentence
A woman has been given one of the longest prison terms ever given to a woman in New Zealand for the brutal murder of a five-year-old boy.
Michaela Barriball, 27, will spend at least 17 years in prison for the murder of Malachi Rain Subecz, who was beaten, starved, thrown against walls and burned with scorching hot water.
He weighed just 16kg when he died at Starship Hospital in Auckland on November 12 last year, 11 days after being found injured in a house in Te Puna, 192km south of Auckland.
Barriball is not related to Malachi, but he was entrusted to her in September last year after his biological mother was in prison.
Malachi Rain Subecz (pictured) weighed just 16 kilograms when he died in hospital after weeks of shocking abuse
Shortly after taking Malachi under her wing, Barriball began attacking him “daily,” hitting him in the head, face and body.
The boy would often soil himself from the abuse, prompting Barriball to strip naked and lock him outside or in a car.
She also forced Malachi to stand for a long time and starved him.
On one occasion, Barriball picked the boy up by the hair and threw him twice against a wall, before repeatedly punching him in the face.
The court also heard that Barriball submerged Malachi while taking a bath, and on another occasion placed him under a shower of 73 degrees.
That caused serious burns to the boy, including a deep blackened injury of 13 cm.
Messages Barriball sent to her partner were also revealed in court.
“You like him more than I do, yar (sic), that’s not fair, he takes everyone the ugly f***** from me,” someone said.
‘I’m going to screw him up badly. Ugly damn thing taking everything out of my life g.’
Michaela Barriball (pictured) will spend at least 17 years in prison for the murder of Malachi Rain Subecz
After she burned Malachi in the shower, she sent a message: ‘I want to take him to the hospital, but I’m scared as a man.’
Barriball, who was unemployed, lived in a rented cabin from her father.
Last October, she often left Malachi alone in the hut at night and returned in the morning.
On October 31, the night before his final beating, the five-year-old went trick-or-treating with his cousins dressed as pirates.
The next morning, Barriball lunged at him for the last time, injuring him so badly that he had a seizure.
Malachi Subecz (pictured) was found injured on November 1, 2021 in Te Puna, 192 km south of Auckland, New Zealand, and died in hospital on November 12.
She told paramedics that he had fallen while preparing for school.
Malachi had a brain hemorrhage and bruises all over his body. Hours later, he was transferred to Starship Hospital and placed in an artificial coma.
He died 11 days later on November 12.
In the Supreme Court in Rotorua on Thursday, Justice Paul Davison said Barriball’s offense is “clearly at the top of any scale.”
“You had all the power and abused that power in the most insensitive and inhumane way you can imagine,” he said.
Judge Davison sentenced Barriball to life in prison, with a minimum prison term of 17 years NZ Herald reported.
Malachi Subecz (pictured) so badly beaten on November 1, 2021 that he had a seizure
Although Malachi’s mother wanted her to be placed with Barriball while she was in prison, the boy’s family is still awaiting answers from authorities about how the abuse went undetected for months.
In the hours after she last punched Malachi, Barriball messaged her boyfriend to say, “I don’t care if I go to jail, I deserve it.”
The court heard nine victim statements, including that of Malachi’s aunt, Helen Menzies.
She stayed with the boy at Starship Hospital in the days before his life support went off.
“When I try to fall asleep at night, I hear his gasping breath,” she said.
“You put your dirty hands on my cousin. What gave you the right to do that?’
Her husband, Peter Menzies, was holding Malachi when he died.
“From that moment on, my confidence and happiness also died,” he told the court.
“I hate this world and the horrible things people do. This changed me forever.’