24 Jun 2010

Drug dealer found guilty of toddler's manslaughter

8:00 pm on 24 June 2010

A Northland drug dealer has been found guilty of the manslaughter of his young stepson.

Kyle Skerten, 23, has been on trial in the High Court at Whangarei for the murder of 16-month-old Riley Osborne, who died of head injuries in Auckland's Starship Hospital two days before Christmas 2008.

The jurors, who retired just before 3pm on Wednesday, returned early on Thursday afternoon to say they could not reach agreement.

Sent back by the judge to consider a majority verdict, they returned at 3.20pm to deliver an 11-1 verdict, finding Skerten not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

The toddler's mother, Jayde Osborne, and other relatives left the court in tears, and Skerten looked stricken as the verdict was delivered.

No date has yet been set for sentencing.

Earlier this week, Skerten pleaded guilty to more than 20 charges of trafficking in methamphetamine and other drugs.