The father of baby Aaliyah Solomon has lost an appeal against his conviction for murdering his daughter.
Troy Louis Stuart Solomon, now 26, was sentenced last July to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for murdering his 5-month-old daughter Aaliyah Izabella Betty Solomon in his home at Pukekohe on August 7, 2014.
He appealed to the Court of Appeal, claiming that evidence given by an American expert should not have been admitted, and that the jury may have been influenced by media coverage at the time of the trial of the death of 3-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri.
The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal.
Solomon claimed in his original High Court trial that Aaliyah's death was an accident. He said he had been bathing her but had to leave her when another child called to him. He returned to find her under water and grabbed her, but she slipped from his grasp and fell.
An American paediatrician specialising in child abuse, Dr Cindy Christian said it was extremely rare for a baby to die as a result of a short accidental fall.
"I don't know of any data that supports Aaliyah's injuries as being the result of a short fall although I recognise that on very rare occasions children can have a fatal outcome from a fall but very rare and the vast majority of children who fall and hit their heads, especially babies, they have mild or no injury as a result of that fall," she said in the written record of the trial.
She noted that Aaliyah had suffered previous injury on the same part of her head, and commented: "She is a young infant who has multiple injuries, both old injuries and new injuries and injuries that are not explained in totality by the reports of trauma that her caregiver was giving on multiple interviews and that this represents child abuse and it represents inflicted and injury that she sustained on more than one occasion."
Solomon's lawyer Phil Hamlin argued that Christian's evidence was unfairly prejudicial and should not have been admitted because no evidence was provided about the cause of the previous injury and because her view that the injuries were caused by child abuse "effectively usurped the function of the jury".
Hamlin also argued that there was "a real risk of a miscarriage of justice" arising from the coincidence of the Moko case, which sparked nationwide marches demanding "justice for Moko".
But the Court of Appeal decision, delivered by Justice Anthony Randerson, found that High Court Justice Paul Davison had correctly told jurors hat it was the jury's role to determine the facts of the case, regardless of what any expert witnesses had said.
The Court also found "no evidence that any juror was actually affected by the publicity surrounding the Moko case".