An Auckland man accused of murdering a 16-month-old boy is fighting to keep his name secret after today denying the allegation.

The 51-year-old accused appeared this morning in the High Court at Auckland for the first time after being arrested and charged with murdering Malcolm Bell.

Justice Timothy Brewer declined to grant continued suppression for the man, however, after a brief adjournment his lawyer David Niven said he had received instructions to appeal the judge's decision to the Court of Appeal.

Niven also entered a not guilty plea on his client's behalf today.


A trial date was scheduled for August next year, while the accused killer will appear in court again later this year for a procedural hearing.

The Herald earlier revealed that at least two people had contacted Oranga Tamariki with concerns about the welfare of Malcolm before he suffered the suspected abuse-related injuries which led to his death on June 29.

Six days before he died, the toddler was rushed to Starship Hospital, where doctors assessed him and, believing the injuries were not accidental, notified police.

A homicide investigation was launched by police shortly after.

Malcolm was one of six children and all of his siblings had previously been taken from his mother and are now in foster or whanau care.

The Herald has also reported that Malcolm is a nephew of triple murderer William Dwane Bell.

Malcolm's maternal 41-year-old uncle killed three people during a drug-fuelled robbery at the Mt Wellington Panmure RSA in December 2001.

William Bell, who is serving a 30-year non-parole life sentence, is the older brother of Malcolm's mother Savanna Bell, 29.


At the murder accused's first appearance in the Auckland District Court last month, Savanna Bell was in the courtroom to see the man charged with ending her son's life.

She has not been charged over her son's death.

The Herald understands that in the weeks before Malcolm's death, at least two of his family members contacted Oranga Tamariki with concerns about his welfare.

Oranga Tamariki initially would not be drawn on Malcolm's death, citing the police investigation.

However, central Auckland regional manager Anna Palmer later spoke on the matter when questioned by the Herald.

"Our social workers were aware that people were worried about Malcolm's situation, and were working to provide support to him and his whānau prior to his death," she said.

"The tragic death of Malcolm Bell has affected many, and our thoughts are with those who loved him."

Palmer could not go into the specifics of the concerns raised or speak further to the involvement Oranga Tamariki has had with Savanna Bell in relation to any of her children.

"Malcolm's death has also been referred to a coroner who will look into the wider circumstances," Palmer said.

"The coroner will consider whether there are lessons that can be learned for the future."

Savanna Bell has refused to speak to the Herald.

"I have had legal advice and I will not be speaking to the media," she said in June said when approached for comment.

But after news broke of the man's arrest and murder charge, his brother also spoke to the Herald.

He said his sibling had been "wrongfully accused" and was said to be "shocked and horrified" at his arrest.

Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft announced a review in May into Oranga Tamariki's child uplift policies relating to care and protection issues for Māori babies.

Since the announcement, three Maori children have died in alleged abuse-related incidents.