11 Jun 2012

Man jailed for 9 years for killing baby

9:43 pm on 11 June 2012

A Hastings man has been jailed nine years for the manslaughter of a baby boy.

Trent Owen Hapuku assaulted five-month-old Mikara Reti, breaking several ribs and causing his liver to burst. The baby died in hospital in January last year.

In a trial at the High Court in Napier last August, the Crown told the jury that Hapuku, 23, became angry and frustrated with the boy while playing a PlayStation game and assaulted him.

A jury deliberated for five hours before Justice Mallon agreed to discharge one juror after deciding the person was no longer fit to continue. The remaining 11 were unable to reach a verdict.

In May this year, Hapuku was retried in the High Court in Napier and found guilty of manslaughter.

His lawyer, Eric Forster, says his client still maintains his innocence but they have yet to make a decision on whether to appeal.

Mr Forster says he expects to receive a written judgement this week and will be discussing it with Hapuku, who is partially deaf.

He says there has been a trend to increase sentences for convictions of manslaughter involving deaths of young children.

Detective Sergeant Darren Pritchard led the investigation and says it has been tough for the family as they had to sit through two trials before Trent Hapuku was found guilty.

Mr Pritchard says the family have always wanted justice for their tragic loss and the sentencing allows them to move on.