A man who shook, smothered and repeatedly punched 5-month-old
Jhia Rolleston, causing brain damage and permanent blindness
to one eye, has been sentenced to three years and three
The High Court at Auckland was told that Polash Kabhir, 19,
also tried to bribe Jhia's mother with $65,000 so she would
not give evidence against him.
According to the agreed summary of facts, Kabhir, who was not
yet 17 at the time of the offending, entered into a
relationship with the woman when she was three months
pregnant with Jhia and they began living together in the
Auckland suburb of Mt Wellington.
On the night of October 10, 2010, the two adults were arguing
when Jhia began to cry.
The court was told he punched the baby with a closed fist to
quieten her down and then went to bed.
She continued to cry so he got up and punched her twice more
in the head.
Still she cried so he covered her mouth and nose with his
hand for about one minute but she continued to cry so he
punched her again.
He then picked the baby up out of her cot and shook her
violently before throwing back down.
The court was told that just before he was to stand trial in
November last year, Kabhir sent Jhia's mother a series of
text messages offering her $65,000 not to give evidence
"... Please be strong, don't be scared," one message said.
"You do this $65,000 is yours. That's enough to cover all
The court was told that Kabhir was never in a position to
actually pay the money, but that the bribe did influence the
way the woman gave evidence. However, she was declared a
hostile witness and her evidence struck off.
Kabhir was acquitted on one charge but the jury could not
decide on the more serious charge of causing grievous bodily
The Crown had sought a retrial but he pleaded guilty before
that went ahead.
Justice Priestley today sentenced him to two years and two
months in jail for causing the child grievous bodily harm
with reckless disregard, and a further one year and one month
for attempting to dissuade a witness.
He said trying to bribe a witness "strikes at the core of the
administration of justice" and needed to be met with a stern
Kabhir's actions against Jhia were "disgusting".
"The baby was totally vulnerable and defenceless," Justice
"You were in a parenting role and she was entitled to trust
you ... Your actions were an inexcusable breach of that
He added: "What I think is disturbing about this is that this
was not a single act of an impulsive nature, inexcusable as
that is. This was repetitive, and that adds to the
seriousness of the offending."
Jhia would be permanently blind in her right eye and there
was a distinct possibility of residual brain damage leading
to cognitive and behavioural difficulties.
She had since been adopted into a loving, caring home, and
her name has been changed. Her new name is suppressed.
Kabhir's lawyer Hugh Leabourn said his client lived with the
consequences of his actions every day and he had demonstrated
His young age meant he had not been equipped with proper life
skills to deal with a baby, he said.
Speaking outside of court, Jhia's adoptive mother, who cannot
be identified, said Jhia was doing "really well".
"She's a little bit behind but she's walking and she's toilet
training and she's talking non-stop and she's really happy."
The woman and her family took Jhia, now 3, in as soon as she
was discharged from hospital a few weeks after the attack.
"She was only 4kg so she was tiny - she was like a newborn
baby. She used to scream a lot and have bad headaches, but we
worked through that.
"We're very proud of her. She just amazes us every day with
what she does."
They were working with Jhia's birth mother and extended
whanau to rebuild their relationship.