Claim mum not told for fear of reaction

A man on trial for hurting a young child said he did not tell the mother he had dropped the baby because he was scared of her reaction.

A trial in the High Court at Invercargill to decide whether Tewai Hemopo (26) was guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with intent on July 4, 2016, started before Justice Osborne earlier this week.

Yesterday the jury was played a video of a police interview with the defendant one week after the incident.

On the occasion, after noticing the baby had spilled its bottle, he went check if the baby was all right, he said.

He took the baby out of the cot, but after one minute, his arms became numb and the baby slipped from his hands.

Hemopo said the child was crying but with no tears as though ‘‘he wanted to scream but he couldn't because he couldn't catch his breath’’.

He said he did not tell the mother about the incident as he was scared of her reaction.

In his opening statement on Tuesday, Crown solicitor Riki Donnelly said jurors would need to decide whether Hemopo had committed an assault which left the baby, who was not Hemopo’s child, with femoral fractures to its legs.

‘‘The focus of this trial is to consider the evidence that left an 8-week-old with injuries, serious injuries, caused by the defendant.’’

The mother talked about the days before July 4, when the baby was taken to hospital and found with the fractures when examined by medical professionals.

Hemopo would regularly stay with the baby’s mother and help with feeding and changing the baby and also help with the other child, a 1-year-old, in the house.

The mother said the crying she heard from her 8-week-old was unlike any cry she had heard it make before.

‘‘It wasn’t an attention cry, it was an ‘I need you’ cry,’’ she said while giving evidence on Tuesday.

When she woke early on July 3, 2016, her partner at the time, Hemopo, was holding the baby.

He told her at the time, he had gone over to check the baby in its bassinet and give it a kiss but had discovered it was blue so had to resuscitate it.

However, when she approached the baby she said it was not discoloured and after she took it from him, gave it a cuddle and then put it back to bed, the baby settled back to sleep within two to five minutes.

When the mother got up the next morning, the baby appeared to be fine.

Mr Donnelly said the jurors would also hear how when the couple returned from the baby’s grandmother’s house on July 4, the mother put the baby on the floor to have some kick time.

‘‘Away from anything that could have harmed it.’’

While she was in the bathroom, she heard another noise from the baby which ‘‘stuck out to her’’.

‘‘Some time later Mr Hemopo talks about its [the baby’s] legs being floppy and swollen.’’

Defence counsel Sonia Vidal said evidence might cause jurors to feel sympathy for the baby.

‘‘Those feelings can’t influence how you understand, interpret and treat the evidence,’’ she told them.

The trial continues.

 

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