A man has admitted repeatedly assaulting his baby daughter, causing 14 fractures of varying ages to the child in her first four months of life.

After lying to police and spending more than two years before the courts defending child abuse-related charges the man has now pleaded guilty and will be sentenced.

The man cannot legally be named as his daughter, who survived the horrific attacks, has statutory name suppression.

To protect her privacy he cannot be identified.

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The man is facing up to seven years in prison after being convicted on a charge of causing the 4-month-old grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard.

His partner - the baby girl's mother - was also charged in relation to her injuries.

Her case is ongoing.

READ MORE:
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Judge Jonathan Moses granted the Herald access to the summary of facts which outlines what the man did to the child and the extent of her injuries.

On February 18, 2018 the baby's mother took her to a White Cross medical centre in South Auckland.

The infant had a swollen right elbow and an x-ray detected a fracture.

She was transported to Middlemore Hospital for assessment.

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The girl's mother told staff that the father had "pulled her by her right arm from her car seat" the day before.

Staff contacted police when the explanation for the injury did not match the age of the fracture - it was much older than a day.

The next day the baby underwent a full skeletal survey- a series of x-rays of all the bones in the body.

In total 14 fractures were found.

Each one was caused at a different time and some were healing.

Medical staff listed the fractures for police and the court.

The 4-month-old had skull fractures on both sides of her head; fractures to her sixth, eighth and eleventh right ribs and third, fourth and fifth left ribs; fractures on both sides of her femur and tibia and one to her fibular.

She also had breaks in both of her little arms.

The little girl was taken to Starship Hospital and 14 broken bones were discovered. Photo / 123RF file image
The little girl was taken to Starship Hospital and 14 broken bones were discovered. Photo / 123RF file image

The paediatrician that treated the child said her fractures were "classically associated with non-accidental injury".

"Taking into account all the injuries, in the absence of a plausible explanation and with no definite history of trauma to satisfactorily explain the presence of multiple fractures of differing ages, it is my opinion that the inflicted injuries are most likely non-accidental," he said.

A consultant radiologist and paediatric radiologist from Starship Hospital agreed.

"In their collective opinion there was no evidence of any medical diagnosis, other than trauma," the police summary of facts stated.

Police said the injuries were either caused by the father's behaviour - "knowing that on each occasion there was a risk grievous bodily harm could be caused".

"Based on the medical evidence, the (father) caused these injuries using a significant degree of force," they said.

"The rib fractures are most likely to have been caused by (the father) violently squeezing her ribs.

"The fractures to the arms and legs are most likely to have been caused by violently shaking (the baby).

"The skull fractures to both sides of (the baby's) head are most likely to be caused by a hard object being hit on either side of her head or her head being hit against a hard object - on both sides.

Police were notified on February 20 and two days later a District Court judge granted a surveillance device warrant.

The warrant allowed police to intercept calls between the baby's parents.

On March 18, they overheard the man telling his partner that he had "told his mother the truth" about what happened to the baby - that he was "always rough with her" and that she always cried for him.


"(He) advised that he told his mother how he got frustrated with (the baby) and that he would be tired from work," the summary said.

"He went on to say that he hated it when (the baby's mother) would come and settle (the baby) right away.

"He mentioned in the call that he would see what he needed to do to hand himself in the next day."

At the end of the call the baby's mother said "thank you for telling the truth, I didn't want to break down and then say it was you."

"I didn't want you to blame me for telling on you," she said.

Despite his promise the man did not hand himself in.

And, officers continued to listen in on his phone calls to his partner where it was clear there was "no indication of any plans" for him to speak to police about the baby's injuries.

Police moved to the next phase of their investigation and interviewed the man - three times.

The first time he said the baby's older sister had hit her with a plastic toy, causing both skull fractures.

He explained that one arm fracture was from when he picked her up by the limb from a car seat.

He didn't provide any explanation for the other fractures.

The second interview was just short of a month later.

There, police outlined "the exact mechanisms for the injuries" to the baby girl.

He said he could provide no further explanation for the fractures.

Thirteen days later a third interview took place.

"(He) advised that he believed the fractures were caused by him handling and holding (the baby) in a rough manner," said the summary.

"(He) explained that he would become frustrated with (the baby) and that when he picked her up she would cry even louder.

"(He) demonstrated how he would hold (the baby) face down in the crux of his elbow with (her) head compressed between his forearm and upper arm."

The man will be sentenced on May 29 in the Manukau District Court.

Child abuse - New Zealand's horror statistics

On average, one child dies every five weeks in New Zealand due to abuse - one of the worst rates in the developed world.

Between January 1, 2019 and November 30, 2019, 11 children and young people died as a result of homicide in New Zealand.

According to Child Matters, more than two-thirds of the young victims were aged 2 or under and of the cases where the killer's relationship to the child was established - 27 per cent were mothers, 24 per cent were fathers, and 17 per cent were de facto partners.

The Herald has previously reported that the majority of children admitted to Auckland's Starship hospital as the result of suspected abuse or neglect are under 1 year old.

The median age of the children admitted for abuse - or neglect-related injuries was just 5 months.

Starship hospital child protection team leader Dr Patrick Kelly has said that head injuries were the most common in children admitted with injuries caused by suspected abuse.

Can you help?

If you have information about how this baby girl was injured - on any occasion - please contact the police.

Information can be passed on to the Counties Manukau Child Protection Team on 09 213 8571, or anonymously through the Crimestoppers reporting line on 0800 555 111.

Members of the public can also send police a private message on Facebook by clicking here.

If you're worried about a child you are urged to contact Oranga Tamariki immediately on 0508 326 459; or email contact@mvcot.govt.nz.

If the child or young person is in immediate danger, call police on 111.