Baby girl's death 'suspicious'

Child abuse was back in the spotlight today as police confirmed a south Auckland toddler's death on Monday was not an accident.

Police said 10-month-old Manurewa girl Jyniah Te Awa died of a brain injury, and that her death was being treated as suspicious.

Her death comes less than two months after Rotorua 3-year-old Nia Glassie died after allegedly being hung out on a washing line and spun through a clothes dryer, and 15 months after infant twins Cru and Chris Kahui died in Mangere, south Auckland.

"Preliminary results of the post mortem yesterday suggest that the death of Jyniah was caused by a non-accidental brain injury," Detective Senior Sergeant Sue Schwalger of Counties Manukau Police said.

Ms Schwalger would not discuss any other injuries while the full post mortem was being completed.

An ambulance was called to a residence in Burbank Ave, Manurewa about 10.45am on Sunday by a family member after Jyniah became unwell.

She was taken by ambulance to Middlemore Hospital in south Auckland, and was taken to Starship Children's Hospital near downtown Auckland later that day. She died about 4pm on Monday.

Ms Schwalger said five to 10 adults were present at various times where Jyniah was being cared for over the weekend.

They included one of her parents, though she would not say which one.

"Police are speaking to everyone who have been in contact with Jyniah over the weekend and to date all family members and those who have had contact with Jyniah have been co-operative and have assisted police."

Nobody was in custody and police were still some way from determining how she received the fatal brain injury. Ms Schwalger was unable to say if a weapon had been used.

Several other children, all relatives of Jyniah aged between two months and eight years were present. All are being cared for, though Ms Schwalger was not sure who the current carers were.

Scene examinations were being conducted at the Burbank Ave residence and another family address in Shifnal Drive, Manurewa.

Ms Schwalger said the police inquiry was being run along the same lines as a homicide investigation, but until any culpability was determined it was difficult to say Jyniah's death was a homicide.

About 15 investigators plus forensic staff were working on the case.

She did not know if the family was known to police or if Jyniah had been admitted to hospital before.

- NZPA


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