A 23-year-old Kaitaia man who admitted the manslaughter of his four-week-old baby has been jailed for four years and five months.
Jahcey Te Koha Aroha o te Raki Ngahere pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Maree Kiwana-Makanihi Takuira-Mita Ngahere at their Kaitaia home on February 19 last year and appeared for sentencing today in the High Court at Whangarei before Justice Grant Powell.
Ngahere had initially been charged with murder but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge.
He also pleaded guilty to an unrelated charge of assaulting a child - his one year -old stepson in January 2019 - and one of threatening to kill neighbours in March last year.
At the start of the sentencing an emotional harm statement was read on behalf of Maree's mother Kirishia Kitiseni and her whanau that outlined the deep grief felt over the baby's tragic death.
She said she would never get over the hurt and anxiety from Maree's death, but was consoled somewhat by the knowledge that her daughter was now being looked after by her two late brothers.
Kitiseni said the tragic death of her baby and associated pain was something she would have to live with every day.
Maree was born on January 21. 2019 and lived for 35 days before Ngahere took her life.
Justice Powell said we will never know for sure exactly what Ngahere did to Maree as he says he blacked out.
Ngahere initially told police Maree was crying in her pram so he threw a heavy pillow at her that must have cause bars on the pushchair to fall on her. However, in a later police interview he said Maree would not take her bottle when he was trying to feed her and stated screaming. He admitted that he had shaken his daughter 'vigorously' for five or six seconds.
But medical reports found that Maree's injuries, which included bleeding on her brain, an injury to an eye, small bruises on her scalp and severe bruising to an arm and leg, could no have been caused by just shaking her and violence must have been involved.
Ngahere also said he blacked out and could not remember anything of the incident.
Justice Powell gave a starting point for the sentencing of six years and nine months in jail, which included a three month uplift for the assault and threatening to kill charges. He then gave Ngahere a 35 per cent discount on the starting point for mitigating factors, including his early guilty pleas, remorse and his difficult upbringing.
He said Ngahere's difficulties meant he could not handle stressful situations well.
The judge did not impose a minimum non-parole period, meaning Ngahere is eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence. He said Ngahere would have to live with what he had done to his daughter for the rest of his life.
"You will have to deal with the loss of your daughter by your own hands – a significant burden by itself," Justice Powell said.