The Press

Dad’s ‘self­ish, self-serv­ing lies’

- Joanne Naish joanne.naish@stuff.co.nz Crime · Incidents · Courts · Law · Hokitika · Greymouth · Sydney University · David Grant

A Hokitika baby who died from se­vere head in­juries was ei­ther beaten by his fa­ther or had fallen down the stairs. A jury will de­cide which side they be­lieve.

David Grant Sin­clair is on trial in the High Court at Grey­mouth for the al­leged mur­der of his 10-month-old son, CJ White, on July 9, 2019.

Sin­clair said his son died af­ter he found him at the bot­tom of the stairs. He said he ini­tially lied about his son fall­ing out of bed be­cause he had left his son unat­tended and was scared of los­ing cus­tody of his chil­dren.

Crown prose­cu­tor Deirdre Elsmore said in her clos­ing ad­dress yes­ter­day that CJ died from a vi­o­lent as­sault by his fa­ther.

‘‘Frus­trated by CJ’s sleep­less­ness and griz­zling, the de­fen­dant grabbed CJ, pos­si­bly by the shoul­der, and slammed him into a hard sur­face in the house, or he slammed some­thing hard into his head,’’ she said.

An ear­lier in­jury to his groin was an ‘‘ex­tra­or­di­nary cal­lous and cruel as­sault on a child’’.

Sin­clair told ev­ery­one ‘‘self­ish and self-serv­ing lies ... dreamed up while CJ was un­con­scious and labour­ing for breath’’, Elsmore said.

‘‘Sin­clair stepped up to look af­ter CJ when CJ’s mother was ob­vi­ously not cop­ing and ... what hap­pened was born out of frus­tra­tion and stress.’’

Sin­clair had never cared for a baby alone be­fore and ‘‘couldn’t cope’’, the prose­cu­tor said.

‘‘CJ lasted just 6.5 weeks in the care of his fa­ther. He died cov­ered in 30 bruises, with a frac­ture from ear to ear. There is no ac­ci­den­tal ex­pla­na­tion for his con­stel­la­tion of in­juries.’’

A foren­sic pathol­o­gist ear­lier told the court it was pos­si­ble but im­plau­si­ble that CJ’s head in­jury was caused by a fall down the stairs. The in­jury was un­usu­ally se­vere, sim­i­lar to those usu­ally seen in high im­pact road crashes.

De­fence coun­sel An­drew McKenzie said teething did not stack up as a mo­tive for mur­der and Sin­clair had a lot of friends and fam­ily who were help­ing him care for CJ.

He said the groin bruise did not lead to the child’s death, and there was no ev­i­dence at Sin­clair’s house to back up the Crown’s al­le­ga­tions of mur­der.

‘‘You need to be care­ful about look­ing at all the bad stuff float­ing around and us­ing it as a path­way to guilt.’’

A Plun­ket nurse who vis­ited CJ told the court she had no con­cerns for his wel­fare with Sin­clair.

McKenzie said the ex­perts largely agreed that while death by fall­ing down stairs was rare, it was pos­si­ble.

Foren­sic pathol­o­gist Pro­fes­sor Jo­han Du­flou, of the Univer­sity of Syd­ney, said he had re­viewed CJ’s med­i­cal and au­topsy re­ports and be­lieved it was pos­si­ble the baby’s head, brain and eye in­juries could have been caused by a fall down stairs.

How­ever, un­der cros­sex­am­i­na­tion, he said other in­juries on CJ’s body – in­clud­ing the ex­ten­sive groin in­jury – could not have been caused ac­ci­den­tally.

CJ had some ear­lier dam­age to his brain, which would have been caused at least three days be­fore his death but could have been months old, Du­flou said.

The jury will re­tire af­ter Jus­tice Re­becca Ed­wards sums up this morn­ing.

 ??  ?? CJ White was 10 months old when he died. His fa­ther has de­nied a charge of mur­der.
CJ White was 10 months old when he died. His fa­ther has de­nied a charge of mur­der.
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