Dad’s ‘selfish, self-serving lies’
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.