Father denies murdering two-year-old girl
A man killed his young daughter because she never smiled at him, a lawyer has told a High Court jury.
Kefu Ikamanu has denied murdering his daughter Seini Ikamanu three weeks before her third birthday. His trial opened in the High Court at Auckland today.
Crown prosecutor Phil Hamlin told the jury that Ikamanu hauled Seini against a wall and then stomped on her because she never smiled at him.
She received fatal injuries as a result of the incident on March 24, 2010, 21 days before her third birthday.
Seini had only recently been reunited with her family after living with her grandparents in Tonga for most of her life.
She had spent seven months in New Zealand with her mother, father and younger brother, and was described as a shy girl.
"Mr Ikamanu was not able to form a close bond with Seini and became resentful, frustrated and angry with what he thought was the spoilt behaviour of his daughter," Hamlin said in his opening address.
"He thought she never smiled at him and this made him angry."
The Crown alleges Ikamanu hauled Seini by the arm, fracturing bones, and threw her against the wall of the lounge room of the family home.
The force of the throw caused severe head injuries that required emergency neurosurgery to relieve brain swelling.
Ikamanu is then alleged to have stomped on his daughter, crushing her pelvis and rendering her motionless and unconscious.
Hamlin said doctors found Seini's numerous pelvic fractures would ordinarily be found in crush type injures, if a child had been run over by a car.
"These are unusual injuries requiring force, directed from the front of the child to the back," he said. "The sort of injuries doctors do see when a child is stomped on."
Seini remained alive for eight months in palliative care before she died from pneumonia.
Police arrested Ikamanu on an assault charge two days after his daughter was taken to hospital.
Ikamanu initially told police Seini had collapsed on the floor and gone stiff.
He later told officers he threw her against a wall.
"When questioned about the act, he said no, he hadn't thrown her against the wall, he had pulled his daughter against him, but she pulled the other way and she had fallen into a wall," the Crown said.
Defence lawyer Simon Lance said many aspects of the prosecution were not accepted by the defence.
He said the Crown over-stated the factor of resentment.
"It doesn't suit the Crown, but what Mr Ikamanu said to the police [at the time of his arrest] is truthful," he said. "He told the truth about pulling Seini towards him and her hitting the wall behind."
Lance said the defence's position was that Ikamanu did not have murderous intent and did not stomp on his daughter.
"Not all deaths are a murder. This is one of those cases where it is not," he said.
Ikamanu sat quietly in the dock as addresses by the Crown and defence were translated into Tongan.
Ikamanu faces charges of murder, causing grievous bodily harm and injuring with reckless disregard.
The trial is set down for three weeks before a jury of seven men and five women.
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