Man who drowned baby maintains innocence

Kevin Little was charged with murder and arrested in Dunedin, several months after killing his...
Kevin Little was charged with murder and arrested in Dunedin, several months after killing his daughter in Nelson. Seen here in 2007. PHOTO: ODT FILES
A Kaitangata man who drowned his 7-month-old baby in a bath has tried to shift the blame to his former partner, the Parole Board has heard.

Kevin Joseph Charles Little, 44, has been behind bars for nearly 17 years but at a hearing last month he continued to maintain his innocence in the death of his daughter Alyssa at their Nelson home in 2006.

He appeared before the Parole Board for the first time last month and he recently told a psychologist he had "recovered memories" of falling, regaining consciousness and finding his partner Chontelle Murphy with her hands on the victim.

"He appeared to imply his ex-partner had played a part in causing their daughter’s death although he was vague and stated it could have been an accident," board chairman Sir Ron Young said.

During the hearing he denied he was trying to put Ms Murphy in the frame.

"He maintains that it was an accidental death and that he was not responsible for it," Sir Ron said.

Little’s case at his Nelson High Court trial was that he had slipped while taking Alyssa for a bath, been knocked unconscious and the baby had been inadvertently submerged.

But a pathologist gave evidence that drowning required total immersion for at least three minutes, and that injuries to the child were commonly associated with life-threatening asphyxia by facial or neck compression.

A geophysicist also gave his take on Little’s version of events for the jury, concluding it would have been very unlikely that the child could have been dropped in the bath.

The man reportedly told police initially: "It’s my fault — I left her alone for a few minutes."

The court heard Little met Ms Murphy on a training course in Australia in 2004 and moved up to Nelson when she discovered she was pregnant.

Shortly after Alyssa’s birth, the man resigned from his job and reported seeing a doctor for stress and depression.

Ms Murphy wanted a separation but Little refused to leave their flat.

Two days before killing his daughter, he was served with legal papers relating to custody of the girl, the court heard.

"Only you would know the reasons why you [killed Alyssa], but it may have been to prevent your partner having the child. You acted in a moment of madness," Justice Warwick Gendall said, sentencing Little to life imprisonment with a minimum of 17 years.

But after spending those years locked up, the killer’s story had not changed.

"As we have said to him, currently the board is faced with the dilemma of a denier," Sir Ron said.

"The dilemma is that part of the way in which the board works is to try and understand why an offender has committed the crime and then to reduce risk ... None of that is possible in Mr Little’s case because he denies the offending and therefore it is difficult to know what did drive that offending."

Little told the Parole Board he was pursuing his case with the Criminal Cases Review Commission (a body responsible for investigating miscarriages of justice).

Sir Ron said the inmate’s conduct had been "excellent" while serving his sentence at Rolleston Prison but his treatment had just begun.

The psychologist was in the early stages of determining needs and the treatment duration was unknown, he said.

Little will see the board again in a year. , Court reporter