2 Dec 2019

Man who killed ex-girlfriend's toddler sentenced to seven years' prison

4:38 pm on 2 December 2019

A man found guilty of the manslaughter of a Mangawhai toddler has been sentenced to seven years and three months in prison.

Aaron James Archer is accused of murdering a toddler at Mangawhai in Northland on 22 August 2018.

Aaron Archer. Photo: RNZ/Anneke Smith

Aaron Archer was accused of murdering his former girlfriend's two-year-old daughter, Ariah Dawn Roberts, in August last year.

She was left in Archer's care while her mother went to the shop.

During that time, Ariah was struck with such force in the head that it caused a catastrophic brain injury and she fell into unconsciousness.

Three months ago, a jury in the High Court in Auckland returned a majority manslaughter charge instead of a guilty murder verdict.

At sentencing, Justice Whata said Archer did not seem to fully accept he intentionally harmed Ariah.

The judge said that the two-year-old was an "utterly vulnerable child" and her head was struck with "brutal, catastrophic force".

"It appears to me that you still hold to the view that Ariah's death was a terrible accident. It was not," he said.

But Justice Whata did note the immediate steps Archer took to resuscitate her and get help for her.

He also noted that the 31-year-old had a violent upbringing and longstanding behavioural issues.

"I accept that there is an indirect linkage between your very difficult and, at times, violent upbringing, your propensity for domestic violence and your offending. You were not given the tools to manage your anger," said Justice Whata.

He accepted that Archer felt horrible about what happened and it would have a lifelong impact on him.

"I think there is little, if any, real prospect of you repeating offending of this kind," said Justice Whata.

Archer will have to serve a minimum period of 50 percent of his sentence.