The Maketū man accused of murdering his daughter had an outburst in court today as a witness spoke about how he had been illegally occupying the land he was living on.
Aaron George Izett, 38, is on trial in the High Court at Rotorua, accused of murdering 2-year-old Nevaeh Jahkaya Whatukura Ager between March 20 and 21, 2019.
Neveah's body was found by police on the tidal flats at Little Waihi, Maketū on March 21 while her mother was in the hospital, having given birth to her and Izett's son. The Crown alleges Izett's "meth rage" led to him killing his daughter and assaulting three other people.
Cassandra Crowley, commercial manager for Te Arawa Management Limited, the commercial arm of the Te Arawa Lakes Trust, told the court today Izett and his family had been served with an eviction notice in the weeks prior to Nevaeh's death.
She told the court that once Izett's grandmother passed away, he had no legal right to be living on the land at 15 Tio Pl and the executors of her will told the trust the family would not be seeking to occupy the land.
During an outburst, Izett said: "Bull**** ... that's bull ... We are contesting that will."
Crowley said Te Arawa Lakes Trust Incorporated owned the land on the estuary side of Little Waihi and tenants lived there with licences to occupy. She said licences to occupy land in Tio Pl were unique to the individuals, which meant they could not be transferred to another person or onsold upon death.
Prior to Izett aka Broughton and his family moving into 15 Tio Pl in September 2018, the licence to occupy the land was held by Izett's late grandparents, she said.
She said once Izett's grandmother died on March 29, 2018 following the death of her husband, the licence to occupy the land ceased.
Izett had been living there without authority after his grandmother passed away, the court heard.
"Because we own the land, any structures needed to be removed and a clear site returned to the trust," she said.
Crowley said once the trust learned that someone was living in the house it reconfirmed with estate executors their wishes on October 4, 2018.
"We were then dealing with an illegal occupation, and began the process to serve formal vacation notice on the occupants," she said.
Crowley said on October 18, 2018, formal notice to vacate was served on the occupants, with a request to do so by November 6, which was not complied with.
She said on December 17, 2018, a further notice was issued, telling the defendant if they did not leave he and his family would be served with a trespass order.
At the end of January 2019 a trespass notice was served after a significant number of communications between the trust, Izett and the estate executors, including the involvement of local Māori wardens.
Crowley said the matter ended up with a Tenancy Tribunal hearing which also involved Izett's mother, who became a party to the illegal occupation.
Under questioning by defence lawyer Nicholas Chisnall, Crowley said Izett was not a registered beneficiary of Te Arawa Lakes Trust and had no legal right to occupy the land.
Upon Izett's grandmother's death the house belonged to her estate, Crowley said.
She said even if Izett had applied for a licence to occupy, his chances of success would have been "zero" because it was likely to have failed the "good standard test".
The court heard the house, which full of asbestos, was eventually knocked down and removed at "considerable expense" to the trust.
During the trial, which started last week, the court heard that Nevaeh suffered severe multiple injuries, including to her buttocks, face, head, lips, and ears, caused by a weapon or weapons with about eight to 10 blows.
She also had neck injuries, which showed the "degree of force", Anna Pollett, one of the Crown prosecutors, had previously told the court.
The jury today heard from a police officer who located the toddler's body after an extensive search of the house.
A number of police officers involved in Izett's capture and arrest also gave evidence, including the arresting officer who charged him initially with threatening behaviour and then with murder.
The trial continues.