A woman whose child died when
he was left alone in a bath has been found not guilty of his
A jury of seven men and five women returned with the verdict
at the High Court in Wellington after just over two hours of
Last November the mother's 13-month-old son was found lying
face down in 18cm to 19cm of water by his mother, who said
she had been distracted by speaking on the phone to her
She denied a charge of manslaughter and her lawyer argued the
death was a terrible accident.
The Crown's case was there was a major departure of care
expected by the mother that led to his death.
About a dozen family and friends have supported the woman
throughout the three-day trial.
After the verdict was read out there were emotional scenes in
the public gallery, with supporters crying and hugging the
Outside court, the mother said her faith in the justice
system had been restored.
"I feel that it's so good that it's over and we can focus on
his life now rather than the circumstances surrounding his
She said that when she was charged she did not know if she
was guilty of manslaughter, so was never angry that the
charge was laid.
"I had no idea at the beginning myself whether I had crossed
that line into the area of guilty by law.
"But as time went by I felt that morally I was not guilty.''
Numerous supporters always believed in her, she said.
She was concerned other parents should learn about the way
young children drown.
"They slip under and they go peaceful and still - if we
slipped under we would stick our arms out.''
The woman's mother said it was a "huge relief'' the case had
finally come to a close.
"It's been hard on her but it's wonderful for all of us to
close this part of the whole sad tale.''
She said police explained to them they had no choice about
the charge they laid against her daughter.
"We were shocked but it was explained to us that it had to be
given because of new legislation that there is against
negligence and child deaths and I accept that is a huge
"The police did what they had to do.''
The trial had been a "small thing'' in comparison to the
grief they had gone through.
Tonight the family would buy a lot of lollies and wait for
Halloween revellers to knock on the door "and have a very