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Toddler's two months of hell before death

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 1/05/2016

Moko Rangitoheriri © NZ Police Moko Rangitoheriri He was in their care for just two months, but it was long enough for three-year-old Moko Rangitoheriri to die at their hands.

David William Haerewa, 43, and 26-year-old Tania Shailer pleaded guilty on Monday to causing the Taupo toddler's death last year.

He had been placed in their care by his mother who had another child in Auckland's Starship Hospital.

That was the same hospital Moko was going to be transferred to on August 10 last year after he had arrived at Taupo Hospital unconscious.

He had severe facial injuries. His eyes were so badly swollen staff couldn't open his eyelids to check his pupils.

His stomach was distended. Bruises covered both sides of his body, he had bite marks on his face and arms. He was so cold it was impossible to take his temperature.

He died that day.

The Crown's summary of facts released by Justice Graham Lang after the guilty pleas in the High Court at Rotorua, makes for disturbing reading.

The pair began assaulting the boy as their animosity towards him grew, with the intensity of their beatings growing. They egged each other on.

Other children witnessed Shailer punch, kick and slap him and one saw her bite him numerous times.

Haerewa admitted abusing the child continuously especially in the four days preceding his death from multiple blunt force trauma.

He didn't like the child being around him and had slapped his face and body with either his hand or a jandal. He'd stomped on his back at least once.

When the boy had soiled himself he had rubbed faeces in his face.

The nine-page summary of facts said the main event that caused his death was when Shailer stomped on his stomach so hard on August 6 or 7 that he could not control his bowels.

The boy could hardly move and was unable to communicate.

Neither Shailer nor Haerewa did anything to get him help despite it being clear he was gravely ill.

Shailer waited until August 10 to call 111 telling an operator Moko had fallen off a wood pile the previous day, suffering severe bruising.

She initially told police Moko's injuries were because he'd run headfirst into walls and the bite marks on his body were either from himself or his sister.

His eyes were bruised when he fell against a bunk and when another child had pushed him off a wood pile, she said.

She later admitted kicking him and biting him on the arm because he'd bitten one of her children.

Both admitted manslaughter and a charge of assaulting the child in a manner likely to cause him suffering and injury.

Outside the court whanau members refused to comment.

The pair will be sentenced on June 27.

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