A woman accused of murdering her grandson by throwing him down the hallway of her home, smoked methamphetamine not long before hurting the child, her nephew has told an Auckland court.
She would also later tell her nephew it was not her but another grandchild who killed the boy by hitting him with a computer tablet, he said.
Two-year-old Jermaine Ngawhau suffered serious head injuries in his Manurewa home in December 2015 and was rushed to Starship Hospital for emergency surgery, but died five days later.
Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 65, has pleaded not guilty to his murder and is standing trial in the High Court at Auckland.
Yesterday, witness Neville McCausland said he spent four days staying at his aunt’s house where he smoked meth with her and others.
Despite caring for four grandchildren under five years old at the time, Cooper did not sleep once during this time, Mr McCausland said.
When challenged by defence lawyer Paul Dacre over how reliable his memory would have been while smoking meth, Mr McCausland repeated his claim.
He also said that while Cooper was able to feed the children and take them to day care each day, she also smacked them regularly.
He heard her upbraiding one grandchild for wetting its pants and telling others off for misbehaving at day care, he said.
Earlier, Cooper’s daughter, Bianka Kupa told the court her mum occasionally smacked the children and sometimes kept Jermaine on a potty for up to 40 minutes to discipline him.
Prosecutor Aaron Perkins argued this shows Copper had become stressed and frustrated at the challenge of looking after the young grandchildren, who had been placed into her care.
Jermaine, in particular, was “developmentally challenged”, being undersized and barely able to walk at two years and seven months old and still wearing nappies.
Cooper would not only get very angry if Jermaine had “toileting accidents” but told one witness, he could not walk because he was “lazy”, Mr Perkins said.
He said tests done on the grandchildren’s hair had also shown they were exposed to meth with Cooper possibly being irritable from smoking the drug at the time she hurt Jermaine.
Mr Perkins said Cooper either threw or hit Jermaine so severely on December 13 that despite being rushed into surgery, he could not be saved, suffering irreversible brain damage.
His life support was turned off five days later.
Despite initially blaming others, Mr Dacre said Cooper now accepted she caused her grandson’s death, but that it was not murder because she had not intended to kill him.
The trial has been set down for three weeks. NZN