Auckland man jailed for manslaughter of 3-month-old baby during Covid-19 lockdown

The man was sentenced at the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday. (File photo)
RYAN ANDERSON/Stuff
The man was sentenced at the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday. (File photo)

A man has been jailed after admitting he killed his 3-month-old daughter by hitting her up to six times in the head.

The 22-year-old, who has previously pleaded guilty to manslaughter, appeared at the High Court at Auckland on Tuesday.

Justice Kit Toogood sentenced him to six years and six months in prison.

The baby girl died on April 13 at Middlemore Hospital during the first Covid-19 lockdown in April 2020.

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Both she and her father have interim name suppression.

Justice Kit Toogood said the man should consider himself fortunate he was not being sentenced for murder.
Christel Yardley/Stuff
Justice Kit Toogood said the man should consider himself fortunate he was not being sentenced for murder.

On Tuesday, Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes said this was a serious crime, and the man was on bail for violent offending against his partner at the time.

His bail conditions said he should be residing at a different address.

The man had only been left alone with the baby at the family's Papatoetoe home for a matter of minutes while the mother showered, Rhodes said.

The man’s lawyer, Marie Dyhrberg QC, said her client had accepted responsibility and had repeatedly said he didn't mean to kill his daughter.

When the man was interviewed by police days after the girl died, he initially said his daughter had stopped breathing as he was rocking her in his arms.

Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes said the defendant resorted to violence in a matter of minutes.
RYAN ANDERSON/STUFF
Crown prosecutor Jasper Rhodes said the defendant resorted to violence in a matter of minutes.

But an autopsy later identified the cause of death was blunt force injuries to the head.

Justice Toogood said the defendant should consider himself fortunate he was not being sentenced for murder.

“I accept you mourn for [the victim] and have a deep regret for your actions ... but you lied to police,” he said.

The man later admitted he lost control and shook the baby out of anger because he thought his partner had cheated on him.

‘My life spiralled down’

The baby’s mother’s life is filled with regret because of that night, the court heard.

In her victim impact statement, which was read to the court, she said she could not forgive herself for leaving the room to have a shower.

Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg QC said her client had accepted responsibility for his actions.
Ricky Wilson/Stuff
Defence lawyer Marie Dyhrberg QC said her client had accepted responsibility for his actions.

She said she initially believed her partner that the baby, who was otherwise healthy, had stopped breathing in his arms.

“When I finally found out [how she died], I was disgusted in myself for believing his lies.

“My life spiralled down, I had so much ugly hate and I turned to alcohol.

“I didn’t just lose my baby girl, I lost everything, I lost my partner.”

The mother said she is now working full-time to provide the best future possible for their older daughter.

She said she hopes her baby is looking down on her and is proud of her mum.

“All I’ve ever wanted is for [the man] to own what he did. He took our baby away, and he has to pay for that ... but I will continue to support him.”

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