Hot car death baby's dad sentenced to 10 months of home detention
The father of an eight-month-old boy who died in a hot car while he and the boy's mother and grandmother got high on synthetic cannabis has been sentenced to 10 months of home detention.
It was a hot November day in 2015 when mum Lacey-Marie Te Whetu and grandma Donna Catherine Parangi left Isaiah in a parked car while they got high on synthetic cannabis inside their home in Ruatoki, in the eastern Bay of Plenty.
In June, the two women were sentenced to three years in jail - Te Whetu after pleading guilty to manslaughter, Parangi after being found guilty of the same charge at a High Court trial in May.
Neil, 30, who also pleaded guilty to manslaughter, had his sentencing adjourned so that home detention could be considered.
On Friday in the High Court in Hamilton, he was sentenced by Justice Graham Lang. Neil made his appearance in court by audio-visual link.
Outside temperatures reached 22 degrees Celsius on the day Isaiah died, but this was doubled inside the shut-up car, experts said during Parangi's trial.
Water left the infant's body rapidly. It became harder for his young heart to pump blood around his body. His skin lost moisture, raising his body temperature beyond dangerous levels. His kidneys stopped working. Finally he went into shock.
He was "unresponsive and floppy" when Neil brought him out of the car hours later.
He handed his child to Te Whetu, who was sleeping off her synthetic cannabis in the lounge.
"He seems hot," he said.
Te Whetu didn't give him water. Just placed him in his bed and went back to sleep.
It was three more hours before an ambulance was called. Isaiah was declared dead at the scene.
Justice Lang had determined that a one-year, 10-month jail sentence was an appropriate punishment. Given that the home Neil was able to live at had been deemed suitable as a home-detention address, the judge converted that sentence to 10 months of home detention.
Speaking after the five minute-long sentencing, Neil's counsel Roger Laybourn said he believed the sentencing was a fair one.
"It's no surprise given [Neil's] smaller role ... He should have done more, and he has taken responsibility in that respect by pleading guilty."
Laybourn said Neil was relieved now his journey through the courts was over.
"He accepts he has to be punished. Now he knows what that punishment will be."
Neil's home detention will be carried out at an address in Hamilton.