14 May 2012

Witness rejects toxic shock explanation for girl's death

9:39 pm on 14 May 2012

A paediatric expert witness has rejected suggestions that a ten-year-old girl alleged to have been murdered actually died of toxic shock, arising from HIV.

George Gwaze is on trial in Christchurch charged with sexually violating his niece, Charlene Makaza, and murdering her by interfering with her breathing.

The Crown says the girl died after a forceful sexual attack by the accused, but the defence says she died of toxic shock arising from her HIV.

Maureen Meates-Dennis told the High Court on Monday that toxic shock is a form of septic shock, which she says was the initial diagnosis for Miss Makaza.

But she said the girl's blood volume did not fit with that diagnosis and she did not believe HIV was directly responsible for her death.

Dr Meates-Dennis said the fact Miss Makaza's brain and kidneys were dead could have been consistent with a blocking of oxygen to those organs.

Under cross-examination, the witness denied she had formed a set position about what had happened and said she kept seeking other explanations.

Earlier she told the court the girl had an unusual injury that did not look like a medical condition.

Dr Meates-Dennis said she was asked by a nurse to look at an injury which she said looked like some sort of trauma.

Dr Meates-Dennis, who has previously run an HIV clinic in London, told the court she was also concerned Miss Makaza might have HIV and a test confirmed the girl did have the virus.

She said the Gwazes said that, as far as they knew, there was no HIV and the matter had never been discussed.