Man played computer game as he held dying baby

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 26/01/2011
Trent Hapuku
Trent Hapuku faces a manslaughter charge.

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The man accused of killing a five-month-old boy was found trying to play a PlayStation game as the baby was dying on his shoulder.

Mikara Ranui Jarius Reti died on the evening of January 11 after his mother found him alone with her partner, Trent Owen Ngaruhe Hapuku, 21.

Hapuku, who has been charged with manslaughter, appeared in Hastings District Court yesterday and was remanded in custody without plea until March.

The baby lived with his mother, Jamie Reti, two-year-old brother and Hapuku in a sleepout behind a house in Kingsley Drive, Flaxmere.

Hapuku had been in a relationship with Ms Reti for three to four months and she was three months pregnant with his child.

The police statement of facts alleges that, about 6.30pm on January 11, Jarius's brother needed to be bathed and was taken to the main house by his mother.

Hapuku was left in sole charge of Jarius and proceeded to feed him but he did not drink the normal amount and became sleepy. Hapuku burped him and put him in his cot.

Fifteen minutes later Ms Reti returned and the baby appeared to be in good health. She returned to the main house for 45 minutes to complete tending to her other son and to eat her dinner.

Police allege that nobody else went into the sleepout and Hapuku somehow caused critical blunt-force injury to the baby's liver, severing it, and fracturing four of his ribs.

The injury to the liver probably resulted from it being crushed internally against the baby's spinal column, police say.

He would have been in severe pain and he vomited over Hapuku's shoulder while being held.

It is alleged the baby continued bleeding internally and rapidly lost blood, which caused his face to turn pale. Massive bleeding caused him to go into shock and lose consciousness.

When Ms Reti returned to the sleepout, she found Hapuku trying to play a PlayStation game while holding the boy over his shoulder.

She saw the baby's pale face and decided to take him straight to Hawke's Bay Hospital. The baby was wrapped in a blanket with Hapuku monitoring him on the way.

Hospital staff found he was not breathing and were unable to revive him.

The autopsy on the baby found death would have resulted in minutes from the inflicted injuries.

Hapuku told police he knew he would get the blame because he was the only person with the baby. He said he did not know how the injuries happened.

A pathologist's report found the baby was also suffering from healing fractures to his ribs that were estimated as being between a week and a fortnight old.

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The report found that the injuries were likely to have been caused as the result of a front-to-back crushing injury.

- The Dominion Post

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