A man charged with manslaughter after the death of his girlfriend's five-month-old son in Flaxmere 15 months ago has gone on trial in the High Court in Napier.
The trial started today with 23-year-old Trent Owen Ngaruhe Hapuku pleading not guilty, denying he assaulted the child and caused the injury which led to the death of Mikara Ranui Darius Reti on January 11 last year.
Crown prosecutor Steve Manning said Mikara Reti died of severe internal bleeding after the rupturing of his liver as it was forced against his spine, in what must have been an assault within barely an hour before Hapuku and baby's mother mother Jamie took the child to hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Mr Manning said it would be argued Hapuku, who was 21 at the time, was the only person who could have caused the injury in that time.
Defence counsel Eric Forster said in a short opening statement the case was going to be largely "about timing," and whether whatever had happened to the child could have happened earlier than the Crown claimed.
The jury was told Ms Reti lived with the baby in a sleepout at her parents' home. Her older son and her brother and sister lived inside with her parents.
Ms Reti and Hapuku had been in a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship for about three months.
In the early evening of January 11, Ms Reti went inside to bath and feed her older son, leaving Mikara asleep in the care of Hapuku who was playing a PlayStation game.
Mr Manning said that at one point Ms Reti returned to the sleepout and found Hapuku holding the baby apparently sleeping in a blanket over his shoulder as he continued with the game.
When he told her Mikara had vomited over a jacket Hapuku had been wearing, she became concerned about the child's pale complexion and decided they should take the child to hospital.
Hapuku carried Mikara into the hospital where a nurse realised almost immediately the baby was not breathing and had no pulse and was unable to revive the boy.
The trial, before Justice Forrest Miller, is not expected to end before Tuesday next week.By Doug Laing of Hawke's Bay Today