A considerable amount of blood was found in an area around baby Maija Puhi Duff's brain where blood shouldn't have been, the pathologist who examined her body has testified.

Dr Dianne Vertes was giving evidence by audio visual link from New York State to the High Court at Rotorua where Maija's father is accused of murdering her at Turangi on March 12, 2016.

When his trial began on Monday, Donovan (Donny) Michael Duff, 42, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Given a booklet of photographs of the external and internal injuries to his daughter's body, Duff was visibly upset and wasn't seen to refer to it throughout Vertes' lengthy testimony.


In it, she gave a long list of injuries she found on Maija's body and inside her head which she was adamant had been caused by some form of blunt force trauma, although she was unable to say how much force had been used.

"But the force that caused them was enough to cause vessels to break and bleed into surrounding tissue," she said, adding they appeared to have been caused at the same time.

Vertes dismissed the possibility any of the injuries could have happened when Maija was given unsuccessful CPR by a paramedic or when her body was cuddled as relatives said goodbye to the wee girl who died on the cusp of reaching her 9th month.

She also discounted that what she found during her autopsy could be attributed to earlier injuries Maija suffered in falls, rolling off a bed or her father rolling on her in his sleep.

However, questioned by Duff's lawyer, Moana Dorset, Vertes conceded she'd found older injuries within Maija's skull but was confident they couldn't have had a cumulative effect on the fresh injuries she uncovered.

To Crown solicitor Amanda Gordon, Vertes said Majia had a wide range of physical injuries including an abrasion on her upper lip, bruises to her left jawline and on the right side of her neck. There was further bruising on her chest and a scratch under her shoulder area.

She found smaller bruising on the infant's right shoulder, upper left arm and right thigh as well as a dot-like haemorrhage in her lower right eyelid.

Referring to her internal examination of Maija's head, Vertes described numerous bruises in the mid-forehead area with additional injuries below her scalp, significant haemorrhages on both side of Maija's brain, the tissue covering it, bleeding all over the surface of her brain "where blood shouldn't have been" and haemorrhages behind her eyes.


When Gordon asked how long Maija would have survived after receiving the injuries, Vertes said: "I would say not long, perhaps hours, but she would have been unconscious, that would have happened almost immediately."

She told Dorset she didn't find any acute injuries to the brain itself or evidence of skull fractures. She was unable to rule out if the blow that caused the cut on Maija's lip could have resulted in injuries to the base of her brain.

Pressed about whether an injury Maija suffered when she fell down steps could have caused what the autopsy revealed inside Maija's skull, the pathologist's responded: "She would have been dead then, not two weeks later."

Vertes described all the injuries the autopsy revealed as abnormal. "I should not be seeing them," she said.

She told Justice Mathew Downes the injuries she saw resulted from multiple blows to Maija's head which were not survivable.

The trial continues.