Forensic dentist says injuries on dead boy were adult bite marks

Tamehana Huata, accused of killing two-year-old Matiu Wereta, appearing in the High Court at Napier.
John Cowpland

Tamehana Huata, accused of killing two-year-old Matiu Wereta, appearing in the High Court at Napier.

Marks found on a dead toddler's body matched the teeth of his mother's partner, a jury has heard.

Zaf Khouri was giving evidence in the trial of Tamehana Huata, who is accused of killing his partner's two-year-old son.

Matiu Wereta 'MJ' was found to be covered in bruises and cuts after an ambulance was called to his Flaxmere house in October, 2015.​

Hastings toddler Matiu Wereta died in October, 2015.
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Hastings toddler Matiu Wereta died in October, 2015.

The Crown alleges Huata assaulted Matiu at their home in Columbus Cres, Flaxmere, on the morning of October 12. He suffered a massive head injury caused by blunt force trauma and died two days later in Hawke's Bay Hospital.

READ MORE:

* Court hears of bite marks found on dead toddler Matiu Wereta
Hastings toddler in critical condition after alleged home assault
Matiu Wereta named as dead Hawke's Bay toddler in assault case
Teenager charged with manslaughter over Matiu Wereta's death

Matiu Wereta.
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Matiu Wereta.

Huata, 19, is on trial in the High Court at Napier for manslaughter and injuring with intent to injure.

The Crown case was that the assault or assaults on Matiu were caused by Huata, who was alone in the house with Matiu when the injuries occurred. 

As well as the head injury which proved fatal Matiu had multiple bruises and abrasions to his face and other parts of his body, including three marks resembling bite marks.

Khouri told the court three marks, on the boy's right cheek, right shoulder and the left side of his chest, were made by the teeth of an adult.

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The jury was shown an image of a plaster replica of Huata's teeth, with Khouri pointing out their unique features.

The jury was also shown images of Matiu's injuries with the patterns of Huata's teeth shown as overlays.

"It is clear to me that there are correspondences," Khouri said.

But he could not say the marks were definitely made by Huata. 

The jury had earlier heard from medical experts who said Matiu's head injury was similar to one suffered in a car accident.

The Crown claims Huata "lost his temper and lashed out with force" at Matiu. 

Huata had claimed variously that Matiu had run into the shower door, that he had fallen in the shower, and that he had "donged" his head on a wall.

Matiu's mother Eranna Tiopari earlier told the jury her son had been a healthy and happy child. The night before he was injured she changed his nappy and did not notice any bruising or abrasions or anything physically out of the ordinary. 

Huata's lawyer Russell Fairbrother, QC, said the defence case was that Matiu had a "freakish accident".

He said experts disagreed as to how the alleged bit marks were caused, and that they were not bite marks at all.

The trial before justice Susan Thomas began on Monday and is expected to run into next week.

 - Stuff

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