Court told accused checked on 2-year-old

KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 13:30 11/03/2014

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The former stepfather of a toddler whose brain turned into "watery mush" after suffering serious head injuries told police he "felt numb" and "was on auto-pilot" after he found the boy unresponsive.

Peter Ross Moran, 24, is on trial in the High Court in Palmerston North for allegedly causing the damage to the child on May 16, 2011.

The defence says it was either an accident, or the boy's mother, Renee Robinson, caused the injuries.

The trial is a retrial, after a jury could not come to a verdict last year.

Yesterday, the jury was shown an interview Moran had with police on May 20, 2011.

Moran said that on the night the child became unresponsive, the boy, who was then aged 2, had told him and Ms Robinson that his head was sore.

But both adults assumed he was acting.

Moran said he was the only one awake - completing his university work - when the 2-year-old was found.

"At that point [the boy] came in with his shirt around just on his neck, so he had tried to put it on," he said.

"We spent about 10 minutes trying to find a nappy and I couldn't find one so I put him back with just a shirt on - it was at that point he said his head was sore but while I was walking around with him he seemed OK."

Moran said "you could hear him grizzling and carrying on" for about 10 minutes, at which point he checked on him and found nothing abnormal.

"I wasn't going to check on him [again] but I kind of got that feeling like I'd better check again, you know," he said. "Better check on the little s... and see, make sure he's asleep because he's known to fake being asleep.

"So I went in and he was lying on the bedroom floor and his eyes were open a little bit. I went over and shook him three or four times, then I went and woke Ms Robinson and said [he] was on the floor and wasn't moving."

The child was admitted to the intensive care unit at Palmerston North Hospital with a fractured skull and suffering pressure in his brain, before being flown to Starship children's hospital in Auckland.

Last week paediatric radiologist Russell Metcalfe gave evidence that areas of the boy's brain turned into "watery mush".

In the police interview Moran also said he had been stressed about assignments in the days before the incident, when the 2-year-old had fallen out of a window.

Moran found the boy lying underneath an open window after he climbed out.

"He wasn't obviously hurt but he wasn't lying unconscious or anything," he said. "He took a couple steps and swayed so I grabbed him and took him to the hallway.

"I told [Ms Robinson] two or three times she's got to look at taking him to the hospital - she went and sat back with him in the bedroom and asked for a bucket."

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The child was later taken to hospital.

Both the Crown and defence agree there was no way to figure out if all the damage to the boy happened on May 16 or a few days earlier when he fell out of the window.

The trial before Justice Jillian Mallon is continuing.

- Manawatu Standard

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