23 Oct 2008

Glassie case told child kicked hard in head

6:09 pm on 23 October 2008

A child witness has told the Nia Glassie murder trial that she saw the girl being kicked in the head three times "as hard as a rock".

The three-year-old Rotorua girl died of bleeding on the brain at Starship Hospital on 3 August 2007. She had been in a coma for 14 days.

Five people face a collective 22 charges including murder, manslaughter, willful ill-treatment and assault.

The Crown says Nia died in hospital in August as a result of being kicked in the head by Wiremu Curtis and Michael Curtis on 20 July, 2007. The brothers deny her murder.

The Crown says manslaughter-accused Michael Pearson, Orewa Kemp and Nia's mother, Lisa Kuka, also bear criminal responsibility.

It alleges the girl was routinely violently assaulted for months before she died.

The High Court at Rotorua was adjourned for two hours on Thursday morning after a juror was excused from the trial. When court resumed about midday, 11 jurors heard evidence from a key child witness.

They watched the child in a live video link and in videotaped interviews recorded in July and August last year.

The young child, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, says Nia was kicked to the couch and had bumps on her forehead.

The child said Nia was then falling asleep, one of her arms was shaking and she was unable to be woken up on 20 July, the day the Crown alleges she was fatally injured.

The child spoke at length, particularly about murder-accused Wiremu and Michael Curtis in relation to wrestling moves, punches in the head and stomach and threats of more to come for Nia and two other children.

The child also spoke of Nia spending five minutes spinning in a tumble dryer and being hot and with a nosebleed when she was taken out. She said Nia was also spun on a clothes line until she fell to the ground.

Neighbour tells of cries of pain

On Wednesday, a neighbour told the court she heard a young child's cries of pain the day the Crown alleges Nia was fatally assaulted.

Jodie Clarke said she heard a miserable child crying unusually and alarmingly - "a mean yowl" that went on and stopped abruptly.

At the same time, she said three males were laughing and drinking, rattling bottles on their verandah.

Under cross-examination, Ms Clarke admitted that maybe she should have called police, but says she knew adults were there.

Another neighbour, Sylvia Newton says she saw a girl matching Nia's description on the roof of the Frank Street home on 20 July last year.

An aunt of Nia's, Donna Maria Ngamotu, said she often saw Nia's mother at the pokie machines past 1am, a couple of nights a week.