Father of baby boy who died of 'not accidental injuries' in Te Kūiti denies involvement as landlord speaks out

Mukzameel Ali holding his baby son Mustafa Maheir Mukzameel Ali.
Mukzameel Ali holding his baby son Mustafa Maheir Mukzameel Ali. Photo credit: Supplied

The young parents of a Te Kūiti baby who died from what police describe as "violent, blunt force trauma" at the weekend lived with two other men in the house.

Ten-month-old Mustafa Maheir Mukzameel Ali was taken unconscious to Te Kūiti Hospital on Saturday afternoon and died soon after.

Landlord Moshif Hussein told Newshub the 22-year-old father was a tenant in the Meads St home with his young Samoan wife, his older relative and another friend.

"They were good tenants, they lived like a family together. Baby Mustafa was such a cute little boy, it's so very sad," Hussein said.

The young couple met at Te Kūiti's meat processors where they worked together with the other two men. 

He believed the two other tenants were back in Fiji on a holiday and were not home when neighbours heard "hysterical screaming" from an adult at the home on Saturday afternoon. 

"They all seemed quite good guys, they were regularly at the mosque together," Hussein said.

As the Muslim community leader, Hussein said he is awaiting instructions from the young mother's side of the family before the little boy's funeral can be organised.

"The baby's Samoan mum was accepted into Islam and we had a ceremony. When baby Mustafa was born, we had a big celebration, they seemed a loving young family," he told Newshub. 

He said the Islamic community was eager to respect that baby Mustafa was of two cultures and that would be reflected in his funeral.    

The 10-month-old's body is expected to be released to family members in the coming days. 

Police are yet to inform the results of a postmortem.

Father denies involvement

The father of the baby boy killed in Te Kūiti is denying involvement in the death of the 10-month old.

"I didn't do anything wrong, because I was trying to save my son," Mustafa's father told Stuff on Monday. 

Det Insp Graham Pitkethley said it's believed "these injuries were not accidental".

On Monday, neighbour Dave Roebuck told Newshub of how he heard a commotion at 2pm on Saturday. 

"I heard this screaming which can only be described as hysterical, then a red car came racing down the street, picked up the person screaming, and they left again in the vehicle," he described.

The 22-year-old father of the boy told Stuff Mustafa had vomited and was choking, so he started "tapping" his son's back and bum "a little" to wake him up.

"To get any reaction from him - like if he's really doing that or just joking," he said.

On Saturday, his wife had left for a birthday party - leaving the father and son home alone to rest.

He said when feeding the boy he vomited and needed to be cleaned up, making the dad "nervous" and "scared".

"I don't know what to do because I was alone, home by myself and that's my first time having an encounter that… nothing came up in my mind, my mind was all empty.

"I tried to give him CPR… still didn't respond and I just lifted him up and ran straight to the hospital. And lucky that's when my wife arrived, so I gave Mustafa to her. I told her 'he choked, something's blocking, he cannot breathe, let's just hurry up and take him to the hospital'."

Sadly, the boy was not able to be resuscitated by doctors and died.

The father told Stuff he is worried police may charge him over his son's death.

But it's not the first time baby Mustafa has been hurt.

The father admitted his son suffered fractures to his collarbone and ribs, as well as bleeding on the head and neck when he was three months old. He said the pair fell down the stairs together when he tripped.

He said Oranga Tamariki was involved and Mustafa put into his grandparents' care for about three months following the fall. He returned to his parents in February.

Oranga Tamariki's Rachel Leota confirmed the agency had prior involvement with the family.

"As this matter is the subject of an active police investigation, we cannot go into further details," she told Newshub.   

"Oranga Tamariki continues to assist police in trying to understand the circumstances that led to this death."

Pitkethley on Sunday said they had been speaking to the baby's family members, including his parents, as they establish how he came to be so badly injured.

"The investigation is in its early stages and there is a lot of work ahead of us as we gather information," he said on Monday.