Kiwi mum in court for son's murder

Last updated 13:18 31/01/2014

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A former Rotorua woman jointly accused of murdering her 7-year-old son in Sydney last year has made a brief appearance in an Australian court and remains in custody awaiting trial.

Kayla James, 25, and her Australian-born partner, Kodi James Maybir, 29, were charged with the murder of Levai Bonnar last November, six months after claiming he had injured himself when falling off a pogo stick while playing inside the couple's unit.

James and Maybir were remanded in custody when they appeared in the Parramatta Local Court yesterday.

James had claimed Levai lost consciousness after toppling from the toy the day before she found him dead in a bedroom on May 21 and notified emergency services.

Police allege the couple abused and tortured Levai for months before he was hit on the head and died.

A statement of facts previously tendered in court said an autopsy showed evidence of three broken ribs, a bruise in the shape of a fist and bruises to the legs, back and buttocks.

James was also charged with production of child-abuse material, failure of persons with parental responsibility to care for a child and common assault.

The mother of three has had her other children placed in care.

Court documents allege Maybir subjected Levai to several assaults, withheld food and water, and forced him to run along Bulli Beach in Sydney's south until he collapsed from exhaustion, and then beat him with a stick.

During Maybir's bail hearing in September, a court heard how Levai had begged for water from shocked campers in the Illawarra region two months before he died.

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