Gran in hot car baby death thought windows were left down

Donna Catherine Parangi is on trial in the High Cout in Rotorua charged with the manslaughter of her grandson.
TOM LEE/FAIRFAX NZ

Donna Catherine Parangi is on trial in the High Cout in Rotorua charged with the manslaughter of her grandson.

A grandmother standing trial for manslaughter of baby Isaiah Neil told police she would never do anything to hurt her moko but admitted leaving him in a hot car.

Isaiah died from hyperthermia, or heat stroke, after being left alone in a hot car on a Ruatoki property while his guardians smoked synthetic cannabis and slept inside in November 2015.

Isaiah's grandmother, Donna Catherine Parangi, is currently on trial in the High Court in Rotorua after pleading not guilty to a charge of manslaughter for her role alleged in his death.

Mum Lucy Te Whetu and Shane Christopher Neil pleaded guilty earlier this month to manslaughter charges for their involvement in his death.

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On Thursday jurors heard a police interview between Parangi and Detective Michael Hayward where Parangi explained her actions that fateful day.

"I just want to know what happened to [Isaiah], but I put my hand up for leaving him in the car," she said during the interview.

"Who put the windows up? I miss that little guy every day. "

During the interview Parangi repeatedly said she left the doors open and the windows up when she left Isaiah in the car.

"I would never do anything to hurt my Moko.

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"I would never leave them up its a bloody stupid thing to do. You don't even do that to an animal. We all knew he was in there... .it's just stupid to leave a child in a bloody hot car."

Multiple witnesses police spoke to all said the car was not parked in the shade and all the windows were up, and doors closed, when they saw the car throughout the day.

Witnesses included Parangi's son and two neighbours.

Parangi disagreed with the evidence and repeated she left the windows down and doors open.

Parangi also made conflicting statements about the frequency with which she smoked synthetic cannabis. Parangi said she only smoked "once in a blue moon" and it was "mild shop-bought stuff" but texts between herself and her drug dealer Thompson Williams revealed frequent visits.

Hayward said the synthetic cannabis Parangi was purchasing was not shop bought.

Thompson's statement to police said Parangi would purchase synthetic cannabis every two days.

Crown Prosector Anne Pollett asked Hayward if Parangi said anything else after the interview. He said she recalled a similar case in Whanganui where a woman left a child in he car. "She thought it was a silly thing to do," he said.

Defence lawyer Susan Gray argued there was some time between the time police investigated the car and it was possible the windows could have been put up after Isaiah was removed from the car.

Hayward said that the police investigation of the car was done some time after the incident. He also said several windows in the car could not be closed because they were found to be malfunctioning when examined.

The trial continues before Justice Lang with more prosecution witnesses due to be heard Friday.

 - Stuff

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