15 Aug 2017

Woman who killed her grandson found guilty of murder

3:20 pm on 15 August 2017

An Auckland woman has been found guilty of murdering her two-year-old grandson, after throwing him down a hallway.

Exterior of the Auckland High Court

The grandmother was on trial at the High Court in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Jermain Ngawhau died on 18 December 2015, five days after Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper threw him causing severe head injuries.

The jury deliberated for nine hours at the High Court in Auckland over whether Cooper was guilty of murder or manslaughter.

The Crown had argued Cooper knew the assault would likely kill Jermain.

But Cooper's lawyer Paul Dacre told the jury it was important the Crown proved there was murderous intent.

Cooper will be remanded in custody and sentenced in October.

Question of intent

In the Crown's opening address, Aaron Perkins QC told the jury Ms Cooper had written to the court and admitted throwing the boy, resulting in his death.

She had initially pinned the blame on another grandchild.

Jermain was one of four children under five who had come into Ms Cooper's care in 2014. The court was told children in her care were often seen with bruises.

''The defendant cannot be surprised by the outcome of her assault, namely the death of this boy,'' Mr Perkins said.

Initially, the court was told, she said she was asleep when Jermain was injured and blamed one of her grandchildren.

In his opening address Ms Cooper's lawyer, Paul Dacre QC, said the issue for the trial was whether his client had murderous intent.

''The person responsible for his death is Kathleen Cooper - she's the person who is responsible for the death of her grandson Jermain.

''What the Crown's got to prove is she knew that it was likely to cause death.''

Ms Cooper's nephew Neville McCausland told the court he had stayed with his aunt for four or five days in the week leading up to the boy's death.

He said he smoked meth with her and neither of them had slept for four days.