8 Dec 2011

Jury finds man guilty of murdering baby

8:07 pm on 8 December 2011

A man has been found guilty of the murder of a six-month-old baby in Auckland.

James Hemana, 31, had previously admitted charges of manslaughter and failing to provide the necessaries of life, but had maintained that he did not murder Cezar Taylor.

The baby was shaken and dropped by Hemana on 13 July last year and died from severe head injuries in hospital 10 days later.

The Auckland High Court jury of six men and six women began their deliberations at midday on Wednesday and returned with the unanimous verdict about 3.30pm on Thursday.

Earlier on Thursday, the jury had notified the court it was having trouble agreeing and Justice Peters said it could return a majority verdict of 11-1.

During Hemana's trial, the Crown had argued that he had murderous intent and must have known that his actions were likely to cause death.

But the defence said Hemana accepted responsibility for Cezar's death and did not consciously try to kill the boy.

James Hemana has been remanded in custody until sentencing on 8 March.

The baby's father, Adam Clarke, told reporters outside court he is relieved at the murder verdict and that justice had been done.

"It's awesome, it's wonderful. It brings all of this to an end, because he murdered my son, he really did. That's what he should get - not manslaughter."

The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Richard Wilkie, said the guilty verdict sends a strong message that children must be protected.

Mr Wilkie told reporters it was a very tough investigation for the officers involved and they are pleased for the baby's family.