25 Mar 2011

Man jailed for fatal attack on toddler

6:47 pm on 25 March 2011

A man who fatally injured a Palmerston North toddler is beginning a seven-year jail term.

A jury in February found Sean Donnelly, 23, guilty of the manslaughter of his former partner's three-year-old daughter Cash McKinnon.

The girl died died in August 2009 from serious head injuries, inflicted when Donnelly swung her around by the ankles to punish her for throwing a toilet roll in the toilet.

In sentencing in the High Court in Palmerston North on Friday, Justice Mackenzie said nothing the child had done should have provoked such an attack.

However, he said such incidents are all too common nowadays when children are left in the care of young men who are unsuited to the task of caring for them.

Cash McKinnon's grandmother, Brenda Te Whatu, read a victim impact statement to the court in which she spoke of the pain the child's death has caused to her family.

During the trial, the Crown said Donnelly murdered her.

However, Donnelly's lawyer said he had swung the child by the ankle and she was injured when he stumbled and lost his grip on her, sending her flying across the room.

The jury accepted the defence's submission and returned the verdict of manslaughter.