Emergency services staff first on the scene shortly after Mangawhai toddler Ariah Dawn Roberts was allegedly murdered have spoken about what the man accused of killing her said.

Ariah, 2, died as a result of multiple blunt force trauma to her head.

The Crown alleges her stepfather Aaron Archer, 30, violently assaulted her, causing catastrophic and fatal head injuries.

He claims he caused the child's death but it was accidental, and has pleaded not guilty to murder.


Archer, who was the partner of Ariah's mother at the time of the alleged killing, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland before Justice Christian Whata and a jury.

This afternoon the jury have heard from first responders who arrived at the scene minutes after the 111 call was placed from the property where Ariah died.

At the time of the alleged murder her mother, who has name suppression, was at the supermarket.

She was gone just 15 minutes when Archer allegedly took the toddler's life.

Aaron Archer in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Aaron Archer in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Jason Oxenham

The first police officer on the scene assigned himself to stay with Archer.

He told the jury that Archer was "very quiet, very subdued".

He went and got into a car with Ariah's mother who was sitting in the front of the vehicle with her own mother.

The officer observed Archer sit in the back seat, reach forward and rub his then-partner's shoulders and apologise to her for not hanging up when he called her.


It appeared he had forgotten to disconnect the call when he could reach her and she was able to hear what was going on in the background.

"He looked at me and said (Ariah's mother) was up the road … I was home alone with Ariah."

Fire and Emergency New Zealand firefighter Matt Stevenson also spoke about what happened when he first got to the scene the night Ariah died.

He was off duty on the night but got a pager alert that an incident had occurred.

Stevenson returned to the station and was deployed to the property where Ariah was allegedly murdered.

The incident was coded "death or near death".

Stevenson got to the address, grabbed the first aid kit and defibrillator and went inside.

Two of his colleagues were already in the room doing CPR - one had driven his own car to the scene and another had run there.

Stevenson set up the life-saving gear and moved a sofa to allow his colleagues more room to work on Ariah.

He said the girl's mother and grandmother were "distraught".

He then spoke to Archer.

"I thought he was the father of the child … I asked him what had happened and he told me that he'd been playing with the child, swinging her around and she'd hit her head on one of the walls," he said.

"He said she'd gone into a seizure and he had shaken her to come back around.

The trial continues.

Ariah's mother is expected to give evidence next week.