Injured infant fought for life
A Palmerston North toddler appeared to be perfectly normal - "commando crawling" around the house where he was staying and eating well.
And until May 1, 2010, he was happy.
Four days later hospital examinations revealed the 11-month-old boy had a broken thigh bone, two broken ankles and a fractured skull.
A "young, defenceless child" was clinging to life.
He survived, but has since lost the sight in one eye.
The boy's grandfather, Lex Arnold Sinclair, 47, of Whanganui, is accused of inflicting those injuries overnight on May 1, 2010, and then failing to seek medical help.
The pair were sleeping in a lounge at a house belonging to Brenda Leather, who was Sinclair's friend.
Before a jury and Judge Gerard Lynch, Sinclair is on trial in the Palmerston North District Court on one charge each of causing grievous bodily harm with intent and neglecting a child.
The defence says that the injuries were caused by someone else and it doesn't make sense that Sinclair could have assaulted the boy in a house full of people without anyone knowing what happened. In 2010 the boy lived with his mother in Palmerston North and in April went to stay with Sinclair in Taranaki.
Crown prosecutor Michele Wilkinson-Smith said yesterday that up to May 1 the boy was "commando crawling" around the house and eating well.
That night the boy was put to bed in another room, but Sinclair took him to the lounge.
The next morning, Ms Leather's daughter noticed the boy had a black eye, Mrs Wilkinson-Smith said.
“The accused said [the boy] had rolled off the couch or the coffee table.”
The boy was behaving differently, too.
He didn't want to be held, was not crawling and was not keeping his food down.
When she bathed the boy, Ms Leather noticed the bruise on his leg and questioned Sinclair about it, Mrs Wilkinson-Smith said.
“She asked the accused to please take [the boy] to his mum and to the hospital to be checked up.”
On May 4, 2010, Sinclair drove the boy home to Palmerston North and later told Ms Leather he had taken the boy to a doctor, who said the boy had a stomach bug and was teething.
Sinclair told the boy's mother he took him to a doctor in Whanganui, who diagnosed a deep bruise to the leg.
But there was no doctor's visit, Mrs Wilkinson-Smith said.
By May 5, 2010, the boy looked “pale and sick” and moaned as his nappy was changed. His mother took him to a doctor, and the boy ended up being flown to Auckland's Starship children's hospital.
In the two years since then the boy had made a "pretty good" recovery, Mrs Wilkinson-Smith said.
Defence lawyer Steve Winter said Sinclair was not responsible and the Crown could not even be sure about when the boy was assaulted.
It was possible the injuries were inflicted after he returned to Palmerston North, maybe at the hands of his father.
"These injuries were life-threatening.
"They were serious and they were grave and whoever did them intended they would be serious," Mr Winter said.
"This case must, and surely will, tug at the heart strings of each and every one of us in this court room because a young, defenceless child almost lost his life."
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