Man accused of biting dead child says there were 'often cats in the house'

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.

A man accused of killing his partner's son cannot explain how he was injured or how he had bite marks on his body.

A video of the police interview of Tamehana Huata was played to a jury in the High Court at Napier on Friday.

Huata, 19, is on trial for manslaughter and injuring with intent to injure.

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 two-year-old Matiu Wereta at their home in Columbus Cres, Flaxmere, on the morning of October 12, 2015. Matiu suffered a massive head injury caused by blunt force trauma and died two days later in Hawke's Bay Hospital.

READ MORE:

* Forensic dentist says injuries on dead boy were adult bite marks
* 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.

In the video, filmed the day Matiu was injured, Huata tells detective Grant Jarvis that Matiu had banged his head on the shower wall while the pair were showering.

He said he put Matiu out of the shower and wrapped him in a towel. Then Matiu walked down a hallway to the lounge. Huata heard some bangs and thought it was Matiu banging his head on the hallway walls. He went to the lounge and found Matiu unconscious and unresponsive on the floor.

He put a nappy on him and put him in a onesie then rang Matiu's mother Eranna Tiopari, who rushed home.

Matiu was rushed to hospital.

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Asked to explain what Matiu looked like Huata began crying and said "a broken little boy... That's what he looked like, a broken little child".

Three bite marks that were found on Matiu had not been on him when he was in the shower, Huata said.

He could not explain how they got there, but said there were cats in the house sometimes.

"We have cats jump through the windows. And they're pretty aggressive cats too. They've attacked me quite a few times... I thought I'd just let you know that cats do go into the house and Matiu does love to play with cats," he told Jarvis.

Huata said he had not seen any cats on the morning Matiu was injured.

"I'm not saying anything... I'm not blaming no cats," he said.

Jarvis asked Huata how a happy, healthy two-year-old boy seen by his mum at 9am was fatally injured within two hours when alone with him.

"I don't know. Probably from someone doing it to him. That's not in my nature bro. I'm not the one to f***ing do that to a child. That's f****ed. I would never touch Matiu like that," he said.

"I ain't done nothing sir," he said.

He said he had slapped him in the past, but "I didn't f***ing attack him".

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

 - Stuff

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