A woman accused of the manslaughter of her eight-month-old grandson made a fatal decision when she chose the consumption of synthetic cannabis ahead of the care of her mokopuna, a jury's been told.
Prosecutor Anna Pollett made the claim in the High Court at Rotorua on Tuesday where Donna Catherine Parangi, 48, of Ruatoki, is on trial for the manslaughter of Isaiah Neil in November 2015 by depriving him of the necessities of life and failing to take reasonable steps to protect him.
She has pleaded not guilty.
It's alleged Parangi and her daughter, Lacey Te Whetu, left Isaiah Neil in a hot car with the windows closed for at least three hours while they indulged in the synthetic cannabis they'd bought that day from Parangi's Kawerau dealer.
The first crown witness, Kylie Te Whetu, another of Parangi's daughters, said she'd taken her sister's two older children with her to Auckland because of her mother and sister's "stoned states". She described seeing them zombie-like, not able to do much and, on occasions, unable to wake up.
She wept as she described Isaiah as a happy child who was very easy to look after.
Dabbing at his eyes her brother, Marcus Te Whetu, said when his mother told him the infant had not woken up he was disappointed, upset and really mad that the baby hadn't been looked after in his absence . . . that everything was good when he was around.
Mr Te Whetu said he knew there was synthetic cannabis in the house outlining how, when he asked his sister questions, she didn't respond and would bump him out of the way as she walked past him at speed.
Asked about his mother, he said she worked long hours and enjoyed a couple of beers at the end of the week.
His partner, Felicia Riini, told Ms Pollett she knew for a fact there was synthetic cannabis in the Te Whetus' Ruatoki home. "I have seen it with my own eyes," she testified.
She said when she first asked Parangi how Isaiah had died she said he passed away in the car but later on the marae changed her story to say he died in his cot.
Questioned by defence lawyer, Susan Gray, she said Parangi worked full time and long hours, that it was Lacey who prepared her son's food, changed his nappy and generally tended to his needs.
At the start of the trial Justice Graham Lang warned jurors not to be influenced or prejudiced about drugs, saying drug use played an important part in the trial and whether they impacted on the care of children.