Sahara Baker-Koro's mother says her ex-partner told her the night she found her daughter dead that he had raped the 5-year-old, that he was sorry and that he asked her not to call the police.
Chantally Baker took the witness stand at the High Court in Napier yesterday in the trial of Kerry Charles Ratana, 25, who has already admitted the manslaughter of Sahara but is fighting a charge of unlawful sexual connection against the girl just before Christmas last year. The judge told the jury they were only to concern themselves with the sexual violation charge as Ratana had already admitted killing Sahara, but details about how she died did emerge.
The Crown says Ratana pushed her in the chest with significant force to the point her heart was damaged.
Ratana claims she had been complaining and he was just trying to get her to "shut up".
Baker, Sahara's mother, told how she had returned home from a shift at The Warehouse about 10.30pm. Stepfather Ratana was on the couch and their then 2-year-old son Rome was asleep on a mattress in the room.
Sahara and her older sister were in bed in their room.
Baker then went to bed on the mattress with Rome.
It was a "bit strange" that Ratana went to bed in the main bedroom instead of joining them but she had thought nothing of it.
She was woken about midnight by her phone ringing, which Ratana had with him. He said the caller was his father and he took the phone out on to the deck.
Baker could hear him telling his father "I'm sorry dad, I love you, I've done something terribly wrong ..."
She went outside to ask what was wrong, saying Ratana was "absolutely sobbing and crying".
Back inside the house he told her he loved her and was sorry.
"Hearing him say 'I'm sorry, I love you,' something just came over me, just shivers all through my spine that I had to go and check my kids, my girls."
Her older daughter was warm but Sahara was cold, Baker said.
"I remember screaming and yelling and crying and I picked her up and I held her and I was like what the f*** did you do, what the f*** did you do to my daughter?
"He said to me 'I raped her. I'm sorry. Please don't call the police'."
She called 111 and Ratana left the house.
One of Ratana's defence counsels, Eric Forster, asked Baker if Ratana had said the death was an accident and asked if she could have been mistaken in what she thought she heard given the emotion of the moment.
Baker replied "no". When pushed, Baker tapped her forehead and said - "It's here, right here, and it's the truth for my daughter."
The court also heard that swabs taken from Sahara had not found any of Ratana's DNA. Ratana's senior counsel, John Rowan, said his client's defence was that he had not violated Sahara in any way, and his case was supported by the science.