A jury has heard the emotional
evidence of a mother telling police about the morning her
young child drowned after she left him alone in the bath to
phone her mother.
The woman, whose name has been suppressed, is on trial for
manslaughter in the High Court at Wellington after the death
of her 13-month-old son last November.
Her son drowned in about 18cm of water while she was speaking
on the phone to her mother for about six minutes.
Footage of a police interview between the officer in charge
of the case, Detective Damian Doocey, and the woman was this
morning shown to the jury.
The woman cried while the interview was shown.
In the interview the young mother told the officer that on
the morning of November 10, last year, she ran a bath which
they both got into.
When she got out, she saw the water level lower and saw if he
crawled in the bath, his head would be above the water level.
She dried herself and dressed in her bedroom and stripped the
sheets off her bed.
All the time she was calling out to him and he would reply in
"I felt confident that he would have been okay for the few
minutes that I was away from him.
"At that time on that day I felt he was safe."
While the woman was away from the bathroom, she remembered
she needed to call her father about the carpet being cleaned.
That call lasted about two minutes, and she then called her
mother about the same thing.
She told the officer she got distracted by the phone call and
stopped listening for sounds of her son.
"I tuned out listening to (her son)," she said.
When the call finished, she realised her son was silent and
she found him floating face down in the water.
He was "floppy and his lips were blue", she said.
She started CPR and called an ambulance. The little boy had
no pulse for about 20 minutes, but it returned after
paramedics worked on him.
He was then taken to Wellington Hospital and flown to
Auckland's Starship Hospital that night.
She told the officer that she felt guilty, but was not to
blame for her son's death.
"If I was responsible for his death, I would be the first one
to put my hand up to make it right.
"I just don't understand why he didn't just pull himself up
out of the bath."
One of the child's Plunket nurses, Andrea Thompson, gave
evidence that babies and toddlers, when they fell into water,
would get into a "relaxed state" like they were back in utero
and just lie there.
A Plunket safety adviser who also gave evidence said the
developmental abilities of babies and toddlers meant they
could not right themselves very well.
"They quickly and silently drown in as little as 5cm of
The trial, before Justice Simon France, continues.