Meth was found in urine of dead nine-month-old

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BENN BATH­GATE

A nine-month-old baby al­legedly mur­dered by her own fa­ther - and de­scribed by her grand­fa­ther as ‘my heart’ - was found to have traces of metham­phetamine in her sys­tem.

The pres­ence of metham­phetamine in the urine of Maija PuhiDuff was re­vealed at the High Court in Ro­torua on Tues­day at the trial of the baby’s fa­ther, Dono­van Michael Duff, 42.

Puhi-Duff died in Tu­rangi on March 12, 2016.

Duff, charged with one count of mur­der, has main­tained his in­no­cence.

Crown prose­cu­tor Amanda Gor­don had pre­vi­ously claimed that Puhi-Duff was the vic­tim of a blunt force trauma that hap­pened when she was in the care of Duff.

At the sec­ond day of the trial Puhi-Duff’s mother Melina Puhi gave ev­i­dence, telling the seven men and five women of the jury how much her daugh­ter loved her fa­ther.

While on the wit­ness stand, Puhi sobbed of­ten.

‘‘They got on like a house on fire,’’ she said. ‘‘Some days she wouldn’t settle for me.’’

Puhi said that the bond be­tween fa­ther and daugh­ter left her feel­ing ‘‘a bit re­jected some­times’’.

She de­scribed how after an ar­gu­ment with Duff she left to spend time with rel­a­tives, even­tu­ally re­turn­ing Puhi-Duff to her fa­thers’ care be­fore spend­ing time with friends.

She said that at no time was she con­cerned about leav­ing her daugh­ter with Duff.

Then Gor­don asked whether she was aware po­lice test­ing had found traces of metham­phetamine in Puhi-Duff’s urine, prompt­ing Jus­tice Mathew Down to warn Puhi-Duff she did not have to an­swer.

How­ever, she said yes, ad­mit­ting that she smoked roughly once a week and Duff smoked daily.

She said that he never smoked around the child, some­thing she de­nied too.

‘‘He op­er­ated fairly nor­mal when he was us­ing it,’’ she said.

She also de­scribed the events of the morn­ing of Satur­day March 12, 2016, when she dis­cov­ered her daugh­ter had died.

She said she woke at a friend’s house to a missed call from Duff, and a voice mes­sage from her aunty.

‘‘I freaked out be­cause of the tone of her voice. She said it was baby and she was cry­ing.’’

On ar­riv­ing at a rel­a­tive’s Tu­rangi prop­erty she found Duff and their daugh­ter, un­re­spon­sive in his truck.

‘‘He [Duff] was hug­ging me and said ‘we’ve lost baby’,’’ she said. ‘‘He said he’d got up in the morn­ing and she was al­right...he woke up about half an hour later and she wasn’t mov­ing or breath­ing.’’

Un­der ques­tion­ing from Duff’s de­fence lawyer Moana Dorset, Puhi-Duff con­firmed her be­lief that her daugh­ter was loved and safe with her fa­ther.

She also con­firmed an in­ci­dent two weeks prior to her death when she fell from a car seat and down some steps, re­sult­ing in a bump on her head.

Casey Duff, Dono­van Duff’s sec­ond cousin, also gave ev­i­dence about look­ing after PuhiDuff the day be­fore her death.

She said she saw no vis­i­ble signs of bruis­ing on the child, who seemed well.

She said she got a bit ‘‘griz­zly’’ at one point but set­tled after a walk.

Her voice cracked when she de­scribed re­turn­ing Puhi-Duff to her fa­ther and see­ing ‘‘big smiles for him’’.

‘‘Every time I saw them to­gether you could tell there was love from both sides,’’ she said.

Melina Puhi’s fa­ther Rameka Puhi also gave ev­i­dence, de­scrib­ing his grand­daugh­ter as ‘‘my heart’’.

Dur­ing an emo­tional tes­ti­mony he also de­scribed be­ing in the am­bu­lance while an of­fi­cer tried to re­vive the tod­dler.

‘‘I prayed so much he could so some­thing for her,’’ he said, ‘‘He had a bloody good go, and I think he only car­ried on be­cause I was push­ing him. I think he al­ready knew.’’

He was also asked if he be­lieved Duff loved his daugh­ter. ‘‘Yes,’’ he said. At the end of the day’s hear­ing Jus­tice Down is­sued a warn­ing to the jurors.

‘‘Please keep an open mind. This is only day two of the trial.’’

DOMINICO ZAPATA/STUFF

Dono­van Michael Duff is on trial at the High Court in Ro­torua ac­cused of the mur­der of his nine-month-old daugh­ter (file photo).

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