Palmerston dad jailed over causing daughter's brain damage

Palmerston dad jailed over causing daughter's brain damage

A 31-year-old Palmerston man has been jailed after causing permanent brain damage and disabilities to his baby daughter by shaking her.

The Dunedin District Court heard Tamaoho Nuku was playing video games at home, with his two-month-old baby Paradise on his lap on April 10 last year.

The Crown say Nuku became frustrated with her crying, holding his baby girl by her arms and shaking her violently. Paradise's mother Huni Samson had been in the shower, and witnessed the end of the actions.

The young girl was taken to Dunedin Hospital with serious head injuries.

A paediatrician's report said Paradise suffered bleeding to her brain as a result of the incident, along with permanent damage to the brain from oxygen deprivation, and bleeding behind the eyes.

Ms Samson, who was living with Nuku at the time, says the incident has had lifetime effects on herself and her baby daughter.

"Her education and day-to-day life has been permanently affected", Ms Samson said in an emotional victim impact statement in court.  

"She will grow up knowing her dad caused her this damage. You have broken her in every possible way.  She will now grow up having a disabled life."

Paradise now lives in the North Island, and is being cared for by a paediatrician and other specialists. 

Ms Samson hasn't seen the baby girl in over a year, and has limited supervised access to her older daughter Miracle, who is now living with her mother.

"Due to your actions I became a suspect in a crime I did not commit", said Ms Samson.  "You have taken away a normal life for her and her siblings".

The court heard Paradise suffered life-long disabilities. She still has regular seizures despite being on four different medications to try and keep them under control.  Now 16 months old, she is mentally delayed and functioning more like a 4-month-old.  She has eye damage and is in a wheelchair.  She is unable to sit up, walk, or crawl without assistance.

Judge Michael Crosbie said the case was hard to hear as a father, and the outcome can only be described as tragic.

"Your moment of anger arising out of her simply being next to you as a distraction while you were gaming has defined her life."

Nuku was sentenced to two years, three months and one week on the charge of reckless disregard of a child causing injury, and six weeks for possession of an objectionable publication which are to be served concurrently.

Outside court, Ms Samson said it's hard to explain the depth of the hurt and heartache for herself and her family.  She says she's frustrated with what she sees as a low sentence.

"It's not enough. It will never be enough... My daughter's whole life has changed for the rest of her life now, and all he gets is 2 years and 3 months."