Tauranga man jailed for manslaughter of 14-week-old ‘Baby Royal’

A Tauranga man whose murder conviction was quashed after a second trial has been jailed for more than seven years for the death of a 14-week-old baby boy.

Surender Singh Mehrok, 24, admitted causing the fatal injuries that led to the death of Richard Royal Arif Uddin in Tauranga on June 7, 2016, at a Gate Pa address.

But Mehrok, who was 19 at the time, denied he meant to kill the baby, claiming it was a case of manslaughter, not murder.

After his first jury trial in the Tauranga High Court in July 2017,Mehrok was sentenced to serve at least 14 years of a mandatory life sentence.

Mehrok, who appealed his murder conviction, was found guilty of manslaughter by a jury at his second trial at the High Court in Hamilton in August.

The evidence of a 5-year-old boy who saw Baby Royal get injured played a key role for the jury tasked with determining their verdict.

The boy’s evidence was that he saw Mehrok throw Baby Royal on to the bed and then hit his head on the wall.

The Crown medical experts confirmed Baby Royal’s skull was shattered from the force of the assault and one said his skull “cracked like egg”, the court heard.

There were also several bruises on the child’s body.

The defence’s medical experts gave evidence that the baby’s death was the result of a “single massive impact”.

The 14-month-old died while his mother, Nikita Winiata, and her friends popped out for pizza for themselves and their children.

They were away from the house for just over 30 minutes, returning to find Baby Royal covered in vomit and lifeless.

Mehrok was re-sentenced in the Tauranga High Court today by Justice Christine Gordon, who imposed a sentence of seven years and nine months’ prison, with a minimum non-parole period of 50 per cent of the sentence.

Justice Gordon took into account that Mehrok had prior convictions for assaults on other children in the same household.

She rejected the defence submission that Mehrok’s actions had been “a momentary, uncharacteristic lapse of control”.

“Not matter whether it was a single massive impact or more, this was extreme violence being applied to a profoundly vulnerable victim with catastrophic results.”

Justice Gordon said a minimum period of imprisonment

was required to not only hold Mehrok responsible for the severe violence he inflicted on Baby Royal but also the resulting harm to his whānau.

Justice Gordon said the minimum non-parole period of 50 per cent was also required to try and deter Mehrok and others from similar offending.

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