Manslaughter verdict on toddler’s death

A 21-year-old woman has been found guilty of manslaughter over the death of a toddler in her care, on the 11th day of a trial in the High Court at Christchurch.

After beginning their deliberations on Friday morning and then continuing the discussions from 9.30am today after retiring for the weekend, the jury delivered its verdict at 3pm in the trial of Shayal Upashna Sami.

Two woman jurors appeared tearful as the foreperson read the verdict of not guilty of murder but guilty of manslaughter.

Sami was a teenager when one-year-old Aaliyah Ashlyn Chand received a head injury while in her care in January 2015 and died in hospital next day.

The Crown alleged it was “a reckless killing”, and the injuries had been inflicted in a moment of anger and frustration, but defence counsel, Jonathan Eaton QC, said that it was a tragic accident with the injuries caused by the child’s unwitnessed fall from furniture.

Justice Dunningham thanked the jury and Fijian-Hindi interpreter who had assisted Sami throughout the trial, and she thanked family members for the dignity with which they had conducted themselves.

She remanded Sami on bail for sentencing on December 15. She asked for a pre-sentence report, and said a first-strike warning would be given to Sami at the sentencing.

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