Father, grandfather charged after Christmas Day drowning

Two people accused of the manslaughter of a toddler after she drowned in a backyard pool on Christmas Day have denied the charge.

James Mataafi and Mosala Saleupolu appeared before the High Court at Auckland this morning. Their lawyers made no further application for name suppression.

They are father and grandfather of Imogen Saleupolu-Mataafi, 1, who drowned in a temporary pool in the backyard of the family's Manurewa home on Christmas Day, 2014.

Mataafi's lawyer Sam Teppett said "the circumstances around the case are very tragic".

Crown prosecutor Evan McCaughan agreed.

"It's an unusual case," he said. "The defendants in some ways are part of the group of victims."

Family arrived at a Christmas get-together to find police cars outside.

A relative told the Herald at the time Imogen was the youngest of five siblings and lived at the house.

A friend of Imogen's father said the family had only recently bought the temporary pool.

The man said he had been at the home on Christmas morning and the accident happened after he had left.

Imogen had a lovely, vibrant personality, he said.

"She was a beautiful little girl, happy as, always smiling every day."

Mataafi and Saleupolu will next appear in court on August 10. A trial date was set for May next year.

NZME rk

- NZ Herald

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