EXCLUSIVE: Parents plead guilty to manslaughter of 8-month-old Isaiah Neil, who was left in a car to sleep for hours.

A baby died after he was left to sleep in the car on a hot day.

Isaiah Neil was just 8-months-old when he died at his grandparents' home in Ruatoki, in the Bay of Plenty, in November 2015.

He had been left in the car for several hours before his father found him - but he did not immediately call 111.

His parents appeared in the High Court at Rotorua yesterday to plead guilty to their son's manslaughter.

Lacey-Marie Te Whetu, 27, and Shane Christopher Neil, 30, admitted failing to perform their duties to provide the necessaries of life and take reasonable steps to protect him from injury.

Justice Sally Fitzgerald entered manslaughter convictions and issued a first strike warning to each of them under the Three Strikes law.

A second strike requires someone to serve their sentence without parole.


Someone who gets a third strike must serve the maximum sentence possible without parole, unless the court considers it would be manifestly unjust.

The High Court judge also granted bail to the pair ahead of their sentencing in May.

Acting Crown Solicitor Anna Pollett did not oppose bail but indicated the Crown would be seeking prison sentences.

Defence lawyer Bill Lawson said he would seek a sentence of home detention for his client Te Whetu, who had "beaten her addiction" and not failed any drug tests while on bail.

He was waiting on a psychiatric report and argued Isaiah's death was caused by an "omission, as opposed to a positive act which caused death".

Roger Laybourn, defence lawyer for Neil, said his client was a "prime candidate" for home detention as the "lesser offender" of the pair.

Neil had no idea his son was in the car, said Laybourn, until he found Isaiah there.

However, Neil did not call 111 and therefore breached his responsibilities as a parent, said Laybourn.


"He should have taken immediate steps to call emergency services."

After the hearing, Te Whetu and Neil, who have two other children together, left separately in different cars.

Neil declined to comment, other than to say: "It doesn't change anything. It doesn't bring him back."

There are no minimum sentences for manslaughter cases, which means judges can impose sentences which differ widely depending on the individual circumstances.

Two years ago, a health professional in Wanganui was discharged without conviction after pleading guilty to the manslaughter of her 16-month-old son.

She accidentally left him in the car in January 2015 and he died of dehydration and heatstroke.