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Grandma found guilty of murdering her 2-year-old grandson

Publish Date
Tuesday, 15 August 2017, 2:23PM
Photo / Peter Meecham

Photo / Peter Meecham

A grandmother has been found guilty of murdering her 2-year-old grandson, who died after being thrown down a hallway.

Kathleen Elizabeth Cooper, 65, was standing trial in the High Court at Auckland accused of murdering her grandson Jermain Mason Ngawhau at their Manurewa home on December 13, 2015.

Justice Sarah Katz gave her closing remarks yesterday morning, before the jury of seven women and five men retired to begin deliberating their verdict.

The jury took about nine hours to reach their unanimous decision.

Justice Katz told them there was no dispute Cooper killed Jermain.

Cooper's lawyer, Paul Dacre QC, had earlier said his client was responsible for killing the toddler, but had shown no murderous intent and was therefore not guilty of murder.

Justice Katz said the key question for the jury to consider was whether Cooper had intended to kill Jermain.

The Crown had said the incident occurred after the toddler suffered a "toileting accident" and Cooper snapped.

Suffering serious head injuries, 2-year-old Jermain was rushed to Starship Hospital but died five days later.

Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins QC earlier told the jury that when paramedics arrived at the home they found Jermain required immediate surgery.

"He had a severe head injury, emergency surgery was performed at Starship, but there was no hope - the injuries were too severe," Perkins said.

Jermain died on December 18, 2015, when his life support was switched off.

"The damage had been done," Perkins said. "The entire left side of his brain was effectively dead already.

"A very bleak picture, indeed."

Cooper had been caring for her daughter's four children at the time of Jermain's death, all of whom were pre-school age.

Jermain was also described as very small for a 2-year-old, with a weight of just 10.3kg and height of 79cm. He also suffered from learning difficulties and struggled to walk unaided.

The Crown said Cooper killed the toddler because he was too hard to toilet train and she was irritable from smoking methamphetamine.

Perkins argued the grandma was irritable on the day she killed Jermain, due to her coming down from a meth-induced high and was also getting little sleep.

Cooper's nephew told the court he smoked meth with Cooper, and Perkins further argued medical tests showed her grandkids had been exposed to the drug.

Jermain's mother Nadia Ngawhau told the court early in the trial she was "very disappointed, very sad" and "quite upset" that Child Youth and Family (CYF) had removed her children and placed them with Cooper.

However, she said her relationship with her mother was "great", and from what she saw her children loved their nana.

Cooper also initially blamed Jermain's death on her then 4-year-old granddaughter, whom she claimed hit the 2-year-old over the head with a computer tablet, Perkins said.


This article was first published on and is republished here with permission.