Mum's text messages delay baby murder trial

AMY MAAS
Last updated 12:28 01/10/2012
Otahuhu baby
PHIL DOYLE/Fairfax NZ

CRIME SCENE: A security guard outside the Otahuhu property where a baby was found buried in the back yard.

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A South Auckland woman accused of murdering her newborn baby and burying him in a backyard has had her trial adjourned until next year.

Kulukora Akau'ola, from Otahuhu, was due to stand trial at the High Court in Auckland today.

However, this morning the 24-year-old's lawyer, Graeme Newell, told the court a booklet of 296 pages of text messages between the accused and the Crown witness Christian Afoa - her partner at the time and the baby's father - needs to be referred to a psychiatrist.

"I must refer to a psychiatrist for her evaluation of [Akau'ola's] alternative offence of infanticide," he said. 

Newell argued the text messages had become available to him last week, and that a psychiatric evaluation could only be carried out on October 12.

Justice John Priestley said that although he was "displeased" at the situation, he had "no option but to adjourn the trial" until mid-2013.

"I am satisfied that references to self-destruction and depression are some of the matters that are highly relevant to the issue of infanticide," Justice Priestley said.

Akau'ola pleaded not guilty murder in November last year. 

She was initially charged with assault on a child after the baby boy's body was found in a makeshift grave in the backyard of an Otahuhu house in June 2011. It is believed the baby was killed on May 26. 

Police upgraded the charge to murder in August last year.

Afoa was discharged without conviction in May 2012.

Police found the grave after being tipped off by "someone who had some first-hand knowledge of where it was buried".

The baby's birth was never registered, and he did not have a name.

Akau'ola was remanded on bail and will reappear in court on October 10 when a new trial date can be scheduled.

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