Grandma Kathleen Cooper sentenced over toddler's murder

Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 66, was found guilty of killing two-year-old Jermain Mason Ngawhau.
Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 66, was found guilty of killing two-year-old Jermain Mason Ngawhau. Photo credit: Getty

An Auckland grandma, who murdered her grandson, has been sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years and six months on Thursday.

In August, Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 65, was found guilty of killing two-year-old Jermain Mason Ngawhau, after she threw him down a hallway in December 2015.

Jermain suffered serious head injuries and was rushed to Starship Hospital for emergency surgery, but died five days later.

During the trial, prosecutor Aaron Perkins QC said Cooper had volunteered to care for her troubled daughter's four children, all aged under five.

However, she gradually became overwhelmed by the challenge and began regularly hitting them.

Jermain, whose delayed development made him slow to learn to use the toilet, was found to be covered in several old and fresh bruises, said Mr Perkins.

On December 13, Cooper was angry, because she was coming down from smoking meth with her nephew, he said.

When Jermain had a toileting accident, Cooper murdered the frail toddler, who could not yet walk, by throwing him in a way she knew could kill him, Mr Perkins concluded.

Defence lawyer Paul Dacre QC admitted she threw and killed Jermain, but argued she did not intend to kill him.

Mr Dacre also contested claims that Cooper had engaged in a meth binge days before she killed Jermain, saying she not only kept a clean house, but had informed teachers that some of her kids had caught chicken pox.

He said, while Cooper's parenting methods and foul language were questionable, everyone acknowledged she kept her grandkids well-fed and clothed.

He said medical experts had also told how the bruises on Jermain were caused by fingertips and rough handling, not heavy beatings.

NZN / Newshub.