29 Oct 2013

Baby's killer jailed for at least 17 years

5:11 pm on 29 October 2013

A judge has sentenced a woman who killed her one-year-old godson to life imprisonment, saying she breached his family's trust.

Mariam Filihia was sentenced at the High Court in Auckland on Tuesday to a minimum of 17 years in prison for murdering Terepo Taura-Griffiths, known as Popo.

The boy, who would have turned three on Tuesday, died from injuries caused when Filihia struck his head against a hard surface in November 2011.

During sentencing, Justice Gilbert said the boy was extremely vulnerable and had a right to be safe.

"Your offending involved a gross breach of trust. Terepo's parents entrusted Terepo to your care, at your request, and they were entitled to expect that you would take good care of him."

The judge said it was clear that Filihia loved Popo and did not intend to kill him, but her attack was so brutal that he had no chance of surviving.

Justice Gilbert told Filihia she made matters even worse by delaying getting medical help and then lying to doctors about what had happened.

The public gallery was filled with members of Popo's family and his mother Terepai Benioni cried as she read her victim impact statement to the court.

Outside court, aunt Moeroa Asiata said in a statement on behalf of the family that the sentence did not bring them any sense of relief or peace, but does give the family a sense that justice has been served.

Filihia's lawyer Mark Edgar said the sentence would have a huge effect on his client and her family.

"I think she'd be shattered because in her eyes she continues to deny her responsibility. The family's been destroyed - nobody wins in a case like this."

Mr Edgar said he would consider appealing against the sentence.