Jury not given full picture in Sahara case

Last updated 13:57 20/02/2013
Kerry Ratana
FAIRFAX NZ
GUILTY: Kerry Ratana.
sahara2
SAHARA BAKER-KORO: Found dead in home.

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A jury was not given a full picture of a man who crushed his five-year-old stepdaughter to death, his lawyer has told the Court of Appeal.

Kerry Ratana, 26, pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Sahara Jayde Baker-Koro in 2010, but denied sexually violating her. He was found guilty of the offence at a second trial.

He is appealing the sexual violation conviction and the more than 16-year sentence he got for manslaughter.

Ratana killed Sahara while her mother was at work on December 20, 2010. He crushed her chest until she stopped breathing because he was angry with her.

Sahara's mother, Chantally Baker, found Sahara's body and said that Ratana said: ''I love you. I'm sorry. I raped her.'' 

However, Ratana has denied this and even at sentencing shook his head over the sexual offending.

His lawyer, Eric Forster, told the Court of Appeal that foreign DNA was found when Sahara was examined and the trial judge had not adequately summed it up to the jury.

Forster said it was a powerful fact that foreign DNA pointed away from Ratana.

He said not everyone who had been in the house had had DNA taken and the possibility of contamination could not be ruled out.

Forster said the jury should have been directed that someone else could have been responsible for the injuries.

''The jury was not given the full picture. A powerful piece of defence was taken away,'' he said.

Crown lawyer Kate Feltham said the judge had considered it was a manslaughter very close to murder. 

Ratana had been solely responsible and it was aggravated by Sahara's young age and the degree of harm done to her.

The Court reserved its decision.

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- The Dominion Post

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