Stepdad denies toddler beating

JONO GALUSZKA
Last updated 12:00 04/03/2014

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For the second time in a year, a toddler's former stepfather is defending himself against allegations he inflicted severe brain injuries on the boy.

A jury in the High Court in Palmerston North was unable to reach a verdict last time, so Peter Ross Moran, 24, is facing a retrial.

Moran is accused of injuring the boy, who was aged 2 years and 9 months when he suffered blunt force trauma overnight on May 16, 2011.

Moran has pleaded not guilty to a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

His retrial began yesterday, with Justice Jillian Mallon and the jury of 10 men and two women hearing the opening statement from Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk.

Moran, of Flaxmere, Hastings, was then living in Palmerston North with his girlfriend, the boy's mother, Renee Robinson, and the boy, while he studied child psychology at Massey University, the court was told.

On the night in question, Moran, the boy and Ms Robinson were in their home on Ruahine St.

Moran was up late studying while the other two were in bed.

He alerted Ms Robinson to the boy's state, after finding him lying on the floor, naked, next to his bed.

Moran called an ambulance, and medics discovered the boy wasn't breathing, had no pulse and was cold.

He was flown to Starship children's hospital where it was found he had a fractured skull and a major blood vessel had been torn from his brain.

Mr Vanderkolk said Moran caused the injuries, which left the boy with permanent damage.

The combined stresses of looking after the child, trying to keep up with studies, a deteriorating relationship and bad sleeping patterns caused Moran to lash out, Mr Vanderkolk said.

Defence lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith said there were three possible scenarios: Moran did it, Ms Robinson did it, or there had been an accident.

Moran had never laid a hand on the child, but Ms Robinson had, Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.

"I'm confident that when Renee Robinson is finished, you will see her as a young mother under lots of pressure and you will hear that she violently assaulted the child."

There was also the possibility the child's long-lasting injury was an accident, he said.

The child had a habit of climbing on things and getting out of the house, even running into traffic.

The trial is set down for two weeks.

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- Manawatu Standard

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