Death was ‘preventable’
Rikki Hotham caused the death of Tyla-Maree Flynn by failing to seek immediate medical attention for her, a coroner’s has found.
The findings come almost four years after the 22-month old died after receiving severe burns.
Coroner Gordon Matenga was unable to rule on what had caused the burns though he did find Hotham was the only adult home when the child was injured.
At the coroner’s inquest last month, transcripts of police interviews with Hotham were read out where Hotham told police that the toddler was burnt in the shower.
Middlemore Hospital burns unit clinical leader Dr Richard Wong-She told the inquest burns to Tyla-Maree were not consistent with burns sustained from a shower.
Dr Wong-She believed the evidence showed Tyla-Maree was forced face-down into hot liquid.
The doctor also said burns consistent with cigarette marks were found on the toddler’s genitals, inner knee and neck.
Coroner Gordon Matenga found that although the burns inflicted on the tot were not consistent with being burnt in the shower, he could not find that Hotham had indeed caused the burns.
‘‘The explanation by Dr WongShe does give a possible explanation for the injuries seen at post mortem but there is no other physical evidence upon which I can rely to make a finding that Rikki Hotham did in fact forcibly hold Tyla-Maree’s head in a container of hot liquid.
‘‘ There is also no evidence (other than the physical injuries to Tyla-Maree) upon which I could base a finding that Rikki Hotham used a cigarette to burn Tyla Maree. Whilst the circumstances may be suspicious, suspicion is not enough.’’
Coroner Matenga found that Hotham did cause Tyla’s death by ‘‘failing to seek immediate medical attention for her’’.
‘‘ Rikki Hotham did not take immediate steps to seek medical attention. Instead, he downplayed the incident, delaying telling Lisa ( Barron, Tyla-Maree’s mother) and then describing only a small and minor burn to the ear.
‘‘I am satisfied on the evidence before me, that the injuries would have been obvious to Mr Hotham.
‘‘He failed to protect her from being scalded by hot liquid and then failed to arrange for her to receive immediate medical attention.’’
Rikki Hotham’s father, Mark Hotham in a letter to the coroner, expressed his sympathy for Tyla- Maree’s family and his own grief at the loss of his son.
Mr Hotham accepted that his son had made some, ‘‘very bad decisions while in a panic that cost baby Tyla her young life.’’ However Mr Hotham was having difficulty reconciling in his own mind, that his son would ever wilfully harm a child, said the coroner.
Hotham, also known as Rikki Hopa, died in 2008 while awaiting trial for Tyla-Maree’s death.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, in his vehicle, he crossed the centre line colliding head on and killing Auckland mother of one Angela Eliza Woolley, on State Highway 1 north of Tokoroa.
Lisa Barron said after the inquest that while she didn’t hate Hotham she did blame him for Tyla-Maree’s death.
‘‘I’m angry at the fact he didn’t take her to hospital.’’
SAD END: The coroner has ruled the death of toddler Tyla-Maree Flynn, left, could have been prevented if the burns she suffered at her home were treated in time. Her mother Lisa Barron and Detective Sergeant Kevan Verry give evidence at her inquest.