7 Feb 2011

Man on trial for murder of three-year-old

4:49 pm on 7 February 2011

The Crown has suggested that throwing a toilet roll in the toilet may have been the catalyst which led to the death of a three-year-old girl in Palmerston North.

Sean Donnelly, 23, is accused of the murder of Kash McKinnon on 19 August 2009.

In its opening address at the Palmerston North High Court on Monday, the Crown says Mr Donnelly, who was 21 at the time, was home by himself with five small children to look after on the day.

The court was told the accused had played TV games and smoked cannabis until 4am on the morning of the incident and woke up to find a toilet roll in the toilet. The three-year-old told him she had put it there.

The Crown says Mr Donnelly was agitated and took Kash McKinnon to another room away from the other children and they heard her screaming and crying.

The Crown says the three-year-old lost consciousness and Mr Donnelly thought she was asleep. It was not until some hours later that a friend of the accused's came by, saw the child, and called emergency services.

The girl was rushed to hospital but her life-support was turned off the next day. The court was told there were 80 injuries to her body, as well as some brain injuries.

However, defence lawyer Lorraine Smith says Mr Donnelly was swinging Kash McKinnon by her ankle to scare her and lost his grip, causing the child to fall heavily to the floor or to crash into some other object.

Ms Smith says Mr Donnelly does not deny causing the death, but says it was unintentional. She told the court the issue of murderous intent is the main issue for the jury to consider.

The girl's mother Ngamiri McKinnon and former partner of the accused told the court she had never seen him lose his temper or behave violently.

The trial is set down for three weeks.