15 Dec 2017

Babysitter sentenced to 5 years for manslaughter

12:19 pm on 15 December 2017

Christchurch woman Shayal Upashna Sami has been sentenced to five years jail for the manslaughter of a one-year-old girl in her care.

Shayal Upashna Sami at the High Court in Christchurch.

Shayal Upashna Sami at the High Court in Christchurch. Photo: Pool / Fairfax NZ

Aaliyah Ashlyn Chand died in January 2015 after suffering skull fractures and brain bleeding.

During a two week trial at the High Court in Christchurch last month, the Crown said Aaliyah's injuries were inflicted by Sami in a moment of anger and frustration.

The defence said the infant fell off a couch while Sami was in the kitchen cooking. A jury was unconvinced by that and delivered a verdict of manslaughter.

In sentencing the 21-year-old, Justice Dunningham said she took into account the defencelessness of the victim and the breach of trust by Sami.

Sami was aged 18, and five months pregnant, at the time Aaliyah was killed and had only recently left her family behind in Fiji and moved to New Zealand.

Justice Dunningham said these were mitigating factors and she acknowledged the offending was out of character.

"However I cannot ignore the fact that this was a serious assault which involved first the infliction of bruise injuries to the face and then two impacts to the head, the main one of which was fatal."

In a victim impact statement Aaliyah's mother, Anjani Lata, told the court Sami's actions had put her family through unbearable pain and they still had many unanswered questions.

"No parent should ever have to experience watching their child pass away," she said.

Sami will be deported to Fiji once she has served her sentence.

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