Parole denied for Bay baby-killer Trent Hapuku

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Trent Hapuku.
Trent Hapuku.

A Flaxmere man jailed in 2012 for the manslaughter of his partner's son, Mikara Reti, has been denied parole.

Trent Hapuku was charged after fatally assaulting 5-month-old Mikara in January 2011 in a Flaxmere sleepout.

He came before the Parole Board earlier this month, after his last hearing on August 12 last year where he was declined because he had not completed rehabilitation.

Yesterday's report said a psychologist did not consider he had "a detailed enough safety plan" so that he "would not be an undue risk to the safety of the community".

"Mr Hapuku's record in the prison has been good," the report said.

"He has not been involved in any misconducts or any negative incidents, and works in a trusted position as a groundsman at the prison working both inside and outside the wire.

"It is important that when Mr Hapuku has finished the rehabilitation phase he undertakes some reintegration ... we understand there are some difficulties about where that might happen, given that there are objections to him being released into the Hawke's Bay region.

"We see there is little point in him undertaking his reintegration in the Hawke's Bay because it will not lead to anything meaningful in his case."

Hapuku maintained his innocence during two trials.

The first jury was unable to reach a verdict but the second found Hapuku guilty at the completion of the second High Court trial in Napier.

During the trial, the Crown said through evidence of timing and medical experts that only Hapuku could have been responsible for the blunt force trauma which split the child's liver, causing fatal internal bleeding.

Hapuku, then 21, had been in charge of the infant in a sleepout at Jamie Reti's parents' home in Kingsley Drive, Flaxmere, for much of the previous hour to 90 minutes, while Ms Reti was in the house feeding and bathing her elder son.

Evidence was given that for much of the time his focus was on clocking a PlayStation game.

At Hapuku's sentencing, Ms Reti, said she didn't know anyone could hurt a baby like that and no parent should have to bury a child.

It wasn't until a parole hearing in 2014 that Hapuku acknowledged that he had hit Mikara once in the abdomen, leading to his death. He confirmed it again at a later parole hearing.

Yesterday's Parole Board statement said it expected he was about 18 months away from being able to make a strong case for parole. He was scheduled to be seen again in December 2017.

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