Killer father forgiven by family

Kefu Ikamanu. Photo / Greg Bowker
Kefu Ikamanu. Photo / Greg Bowker

The man who killed his daughter by throwing her against a wall before stomping on her and shattering her pelvis has been sentenced to six years and nine months in prison - after being forgiven by his family.

Kefu Ikamanu was found guilty of manslaughter and causing grievous bodily harm to his two-year-old daughter Seini by a High Court jury in August. He was found not guilty of murder.

Today Justice Geoffrey Venning said the incident was a "one-off" caused by Ikamanu's frustration at Seini's behaviour.

Justice Venning said Ikamanu had been watching TV while Seini was noisy while she played with her younger brother. While sitting on the couch he grabbed her and pulled her towards him before throwing her against the wall.

"In the heat of the moment, you carried on and then stomped on her."

The Crown had sought a jail sentence of between 10 and 13 years.

Ikamanu's lawyer Simon Lance said his client had been forgiven by his family who supported him in court today.

"He didn't mean to kill his daughter. He is very sorry for it and he has the full support of his family."

The trial heard how Ikamanu told his wife, police and doctors different stories in the days following Seini's admission to hospital with a broken shoulder, shattered pelvis and fatal head injuries. She died nine months later.

Ikamanu was looking after Seini and her younger brother at their home in Beach Haven on Auckland's North Shore while his wife Sela was at work on March 24, 2010.

Ikamanu later told Sela he had been talking with Seini when suddenly she had a seizure.

He told a police officer later that night how Seini had been pushed down the stairs by her little brother the day before she suddenly had a seizure.

The day after Seini was rushed to hospital, Starship's child protection team head Dr Patrick Kelly talked to Ikamanu and his wife about what happened.

Dr Kelly said Ikamanu told him that on the night, Seini had been playing with her brother and went over to the couch in the living room.

Ikamanu told the doctor that he noticed Seini's eyes were crossed. He grabbed Seini and took off her clothes before running her to the shower.

Crown prosecutor Phil Hamlin said in his closing address to the jury that Ikamanu knew full well what he had done and but he wasn't going to tell authorities.

"Even when the doctor was telling him: 'We need to know'. He's protecting himself."

Again, Mr Hamlin said there was no mention of grabbing or of Seini's head banging against the wall.

The following day Ikamanu agreed to talk to police. Mr Hamlin said Detective David Paea picked up a teary-eyed Ikamanu at the hospital.

Mr Paea said Ikamanu told him he wanted to tell the truth and asked about what kind of jail sentence he was likely to get.

"... Ikamannu tells [the detective] he grabbed Seini and threw her and her head hit the wall."

Mr Hamlin said that description best fitted the medical evidence about Seini's head injuries.

But later, in front of the DVD recorder, Ikamanu told Mr Paea that he had grabbed Seini's hand, she fell away somehow and her head hit the wall.

"I suggest to you that what has been suggested doesn't fit at all because he's not telling police the full story," Mr Hamlin said.

He referred the jurors to medical experts who have given evidence that the force required for the head injuries was comparable to a car crash or a fall from a building.

"He has told different versions to different people at different times."

Timeline of events:

April 14, 2007: Seini is born

September 2007: Seini moves to Tonga to stay with her grandparents

July 29, 2008: Seini's brother Manamoui is born

January 29, 2010: Seini returns to New Zealand to live with her parents

March 22 and 23, 2010: Seini's mother notices her daughter has bruises on her face, a red eye and bruises on her back

March 24, 2010: Seini is taken to hospital with fatal head injuries, a broken shoulder and shattered pelvis

November 30, 2010: Seini has neurosurgery

December 6, 2010: Seini dies in Starship Hospital


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