The retrial of a Bay of Plenty man who allegedly murdered a 14-week-old baby has started in the High Court at Hamilton.

Surender Singh Mehrok, now aged 24, denies the murder of Richard Royal Arif Uddin in Tauranga on June 7, 2016.

Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery QC told the jury how Richard, known as baby Royal, was an otherwise healthy baby boy prior to being left with Mehrok but that all changed in an approximate 30-minute period as his mother - Nikita Winiata - and friends popped out to get pizza.

Within minutes of arriving home, Winiata was driven to Tauranga Hospital cradling her seriously ill baby, arriving at 7.54pm.


On the night, Mehrok arrived home between 6pm and 6.30pm.

Just before 7.15pm, the other adults and one of the children went to get pizza, and he was asked to look after baby Royal, while another boarder was to look after the other children.

The boarder will give evidence this week how all the children had been settled and dressed for bed prior to their mother' going out to get food.

However after 10 minutes, baby Royal started crying.

Mehrok picked him up, walked around with him, tried giving him milk but he wouldn't stop crying.

Another child will give evidence about how he saw Mehrok throw baby Royal onto the bed and then bounce onto the wall.

The group then returned home and found baby Royal unresponsive, having vomited. They called 111 but knowing there would be a delay, decided to drive him to Tauranga Hospital themselves as it was nearby.

Richard Royal Uddin, 14 months, who died in June 2016. Photo / File
Richard Royal Uddin, 14 months, who died in June 2016. Photo / File

"We know that not just from their recollection but we know from video footage … that they were away from the house in the vicinity of half an hour.


"It's what happened in that half an hour that you are concerned about."

The victim was declared dead at 8.23pm.

However, Raftery said experts would testify that baby Royal's injuries were so significant his head couldn't have hit the bed first as his skull was left fractured.

"They all agree these were horrific head injuries … he was hit or forced into a hard surface on the back of the head in the roughest way and it fractured [that] area of the skull in many places and it caused an enormous amount of bleeding of which there was no possible recovery for this child.

"The force that had to be used to fracture the skull of this child in so many places was considerable in the extreme."

Raftery said if his head had hit the bed first the injuries would not have been so significant.


Raftery said to find the accused guilty of murder his state of mind was important; where someone intends to injure a child and inflict the sort of injuries that they know could kill someone, even if they didn't want to, went ahead and caused the injuries anyway.


Defence counsel Rob Stevens said his client accepted causing the death of baby Royal but it wasn't intentional. Mehrok was guilty of manslaughter, not murder, he said.

"This is a tragic case. That young man sitting there in that dock caused the death of a young baby that he cared for."

He said it wasn't a prolonged beating, it was an incident that happened "in an instant".

"This is a case about a young man who was doing his very best to look after a child who was placed in his care but in a minute, in an instant, he reacted in a way that caused baby Royal's death."


Stevens told the jury the photos of baby Royal were confronting images but he urged them to come to their conclusion with an open mind.


Tatiana Pinga, who Winiata was living with at the time, said when they arrived home with the pizza her eldest son walked up to them telling them that his "uncle had hurt the baby".

She said her partner, Rajanpreet Singh, and Winiata shrugged off the comment before seeing Mehrok walk into the bathroom with baby Royal.

It was then they noticed his face covered in vomit.

By that stage, Winiata had hold of her baby and was screaming. Pinga said she then grabbed baby Royal and he was "lifeless".


"I had taken Richard and tried doing CPR myself … at the same time I was on the phone to the ambulance but we ended up driving him to hospital ourselves."

Pinga said she screamed at Mehrok asking him what he had done.
"He said he didn't do anything."


Nikita Winitia told the court that she and Pinga had been out shopping during the day, while Mehrok and the other two men who lived there, were at work.

Baby Royal had had his bottle and was wearing his onesie green dinosaur suit when she left to go get pizza with the others.

When they got home, Winiata noticed her son wasn't in his stroller where she left him.
"I found him in the first bedroom with Surender.


He was holding my baby telling me that he had vomit on his face so we took him to the bathroom and tried washing him."

There was also vomit on his onesie.

As they cleaned him, Royal never made a noise.

She then grabbed him and walked into the lounge rubbing his back asking Pinga what she should do.

Winiata said she asked Mehrok what he had done and "he said my child wasn't breathing".

"He just said my child wasn't breathing so I took my son and went into the living room rubbing his back asking Tatiana 'what do I do?'."


After arriving at the hospital she said she noticed Royal had a bruise on his left cheek and his head was swollen.

Earlier in her opening remarks, Justice Christine Gordon told the jury to keep an open mind when hearing all of the evidence.

Informing them that the victim was a 14-week-old baby, Gordon said they would need to do their job "free of emotion", in a cool, calm and dispassionate manner, basing their decision in a "clinical fashion without judgment".

A jury comprising five men and seven women has been selected, and while the trial was set down for two weeks it is not likely to take that long.