Grandma accused of murder was loved by grandson - mother

  • 01/08/2017
Auckland, Murder
Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 65, has pleaded not guilty to murdering two-year-old Jermaine Ngawhau. Photo credit: File

A grandmother accused of murdering her grandson by throwing him onto the ground was beloved by the four grandkids in her care, their mother has told a court.

Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 65, has pleaded not guilty to murdering two-year-old Jermaine Ngawhau and is standing trial at the High Court at Auckland.

The toddler suffered serious head injuries in his Manurewa home in December 2015 and was rushed to Starship Hospital for emergency surgery, but died five days later.

On Monday, Nadia Ngawhau said her mother, Cooper, who was living in a small estate for retirees, had taken over the care of Jermaine and three of her other children at the request of authorities.

She joked that the kids loved Cooper so much they were always talking about her, saying "Nana, this Nana that".

"I was thinking, 'I'm still your mother'," she said.

Under questioning by Crown prosecutors, Ms Ngawhau denied Cooper would abuse the kids by smacking them, saying she instead kept them on track and instilled good discipline.

She said her mother had been able to toilet train the kids, get them to wear their pyjamas and become well behaved in a way Ms Ngawhau had not been able to when she was caring for them.

"I'm so thankful to my mother for doing that," she said.

Ms Ngawhau said she last saw Jermaine alive a few days before he was hurt by Cooper.

He was asleep in his bedroom, having being put to bed by Cooper because he had peed on the lounge floor.

Prosecutor Aaron Perkins earlier told the court Copper had become stressed by the challenge of looking after the young grandchildren.

Jermaine, in particular, was "developmentally" challenged, being undersized and barely able to walk at two-years-and-seven-months old and still wearing nappies.

On December 13, Cooper either threw or hit him so severely that despite being rushed into surgery, he could not be saved, suffering irreversible brain damage, Mr Perkins said.

His life support was turned off five days later.

Despite initially blaming others, Mr Dacre said Cooper now accepted she caused her grandson's death, but that it was not murder because she had not intended to kill him.

The trial has been set down for three weeks.