Bay of Plenty father on trial accused of murdering his 2-year-old daughter

Aaron George Izett, 38, is on trial in the Rotorua High Court defending a charge of murdering his daughter.Photo / Andrew Warner. 191020aw02.JPG

A police dive squad searching the Little Waihi estuary. Photo / FileA_260319gn01bop.JPG

Was a Maketū father insane when he killed his 2-year-old daughter and assaulted others – or was it a “meth rage” which led to him murdering her?

This is the question facing a Rotorua High Court jury in the trial of Aaron George Izett, 38, who has denied murdering Nevaeh Jahkaya Whatukura Ager in Little Waihi between March 20 and 21 last year.

Nevaeh’s body was found on the tidal flats at Little Waihi in Maketū by police called to the Tio Place home of Izett and partner Alyson Ager on March 21, 2019.

Izett has also pleaded not guilty to three further charges – wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault and injuring with intent to injure.

The assault charge relates to Izett allegedly assaulting Nevaeh’s great-grandfather, John Sturgess, on March 20, 2019, when he and his wife visited the address.

The other two charges relate to the alleged assaults of a police constable and Jacob Reid, a neighbour in Maketū, between March 18 and March 21 last year.

During her opening address, Crown solicitor Anna Pollett told the jury that Izett was a regular recreational user of methamphetamine and cannabis and the hours leading up to the killing was no different.

Pollett said between the time Nevaeh was last seen on March 20 and police arriving at the Tio Place property on March 21, the toddler had been assaulted on multiple occasions by her father, including with weapons.

She said the pathologist would give evidence about Nevaeh having sustained severe multiple injuries caused by a weapon or weapons, including to her buttocks.

Nevaeh also had injuries to her face and head, including her lips, ears and there were about eight to 10 blows. She also had neck injuries which spoke to the “degree of force”.

Pollett said after Izett assaulted his daughter he placed her naked body face down in the water on mudflats and put two large boulders or rocks, with a combined weight of just under 80kg, on top of her and Nevaeh drowned.

Pollett said the jury heard evidence from Jacob Reid about how he was allegedly assaulted by the defendant while visiting Izett on the morning of March 18, 2019.

Reid would give evidence that he was struck over the back of the neck with some sort of weapon and was bleeding profusely when he ran home and later had surgery.

A resident using binoculars would also give evidence that he saw Izett in the water on the estuary side of Tio Place house leaning on his pole on March.

“The defendant was certainly acting strangely that day and he was heard ranting and raving, perhaps on a meth and cannabis bender,” Pollett said.

Pollett said when police arrived at the property on March 21, 2019, Izett was naked, had a pitchfork, was blowing a whistle and ran into the estuary.

After some hours of negotiations, Izett was tasered and during the struggle he bit a constable Andrew McDonald, removing flesh and skin from his wrist

Pollett said it was a “meth rage” which led to Izett killing his daughter and to commit all the other offences, and intoxicated intent is still an intent.

“This was assault, on assault, on assault, before drowning her,” Pollett said.

The Crown did not accept that the defendant had the defence of insanity, she said.

But Izett’s lawyer, Nicholas Chisnall, said it was critical the jury suspended its judgment until it had heard all the evidence.

Chisnall said his client did not deny causing the fatal injuries to his daughter and assaulting Sturgess and the police constable, but denied injuring Reid.

He urged the jury to find Izett guilty of manslaughter or culpability homicide but not murder by reason of his insanity at the time he committed the acts.

Chisnall said on the balance of probabilities Izett’s intoxication from consuming P and cannabis made him incapable of understanding the true nature of the acts he committed

The trial is expected to last three week.

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