Alleged attacker of toddler named

Last updated 15:39 27/03/2014
Caleb Skinner
LONG RECOVERY: Caleb Skinner.

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A man who allegedly assaulted toddler Caleb Skinner, leaving him with brain damage, has been named and charged with assaulting another child.

He is Jason Mark Sutherland, 39, of Masterton.

Sutherland, an orchard worker, has been in custody since the evening of March 3, the day 2-year-old Caleb was found unconscious at his Masterton home, where Sutherland also lived. Police have said he is not a blood relative of Caleb.

At a court appearance earlier this month he was charged with assaulting a child, but in the Masterton District Court today he made his first appearance on a more serious charge of wounding Caleb with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. Police indicated it would replace the lesser assault charge.

He also faced two new charges, of assaulting a second child and of breaching a protection order relating to that child.

His interim name suppression lapsed today and Judge O'Dwyer declined an application from lawyer Virginia Pearson for it to continue. She suppressed the name of the second child.

Judge O'Dwyer remanded Sutherland in custody without plea on all charges until April 10. Bail was not sought.

Caleb was flown to Auckland's Starship children's hospital with a serious head injury after the alleged assault. Last week he was transferred to Wilson Centre for Children's rehabilitation service in Takapuna, where he is expected to stay for several weeks.

His parents Joanne Smith and Daryll Skinner are staying with him.

Doctors have said he has suffered some brain damage.

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