Te Kūiti baby death: ‘Inconsistencies’ in parents’ stories — police

By 1news.co.nz and is republished with permission

Police have named the 10-month-old at the centre of a Waikato homicide probe and revealed the child was already known over a previous “non-accidental injury”.

The lead detective in the Te Kūiti case also alleged “inconsistencies” with statements given to police by the baby boy’s parents about injuries sustained before his death.

The baby has been named as Mustafa Ali.

A post-mortem examination of the child’s body was expected to take “several” more days “due to the nature and extent of” his injuries.

Mustafa was taken to Te Kūiti Hospital unconscious on Saturday afternoon, with what police initially described as “violent, blunt-force trauma” and “non-accidental” injuries.

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley gave an update on the homicide investigation at the Hamilton Central police station earlier today.

“The mother of the child and the father of the child are both speaking to us. I have, personally, some concerns in regard to inconsistencies with the statement.”

Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley
Detective Inspector Graham Pitkethley (Source: 1News)

He added: “We have some inconsistencies with some of the statements that we’re getting with what appears to be the injuries of Mustafa.”

The father of the 10-month-old baby denied involvement with his son’s death in a media interview, published earlier today.

The 22-year-old told Stuff of his account about the moments leading up to his son being rushed to the hospital.

Baby Mustafa Ali
Baby Mustafa Ali (Source: Supplied)

Pitkethley responded to the reports when asked during the media conference.

“I do know of those statements that have been printed in the media, in regards to it, but I am unwilling to comment further as the investigation progresses.”

Police at the Te Kūiti property at the centre of a homicide investigation.
Police at the Te Kūiti property at the centre of a homicide investigation. (Source: 1News)

Meanwhile, the detective also revealed the child was previously known to police for another “non-accidental injury”, which allegedly occurred around October last year.

“Mustafa Ali is known to police in regards to a non-accidental injury, previously, that has been investigated,” he said.

“Police were notified in or around October, and that investigation has been ongoing since that time with a number of reviews.”

He said the incident last year was “now critical” to police’s current investigation.

“Non-accidental injuries on children are one of the most complex cases that our detectives and investigators can work on, for a number of reasons, and that complexity is also present in this case.”

Family of baby known to social workers — official

Oranga Tamariki deputy chief executive of service delivery Rachel Leota said today the agency had “prior involvement with the family in Te Kūiti”.

“As this matter is the subject of an active police investigation, we cannot go into further details. Oranga Tamariki continues to assist police in trying to understand the circumstances that led to this death,” she said in a statement this afternoon.

(Natalia Sutherland)

On Sunday, Detective Pitkethley said police were “speaking to family members, including his parents” during the homicide investigation, named Operation Orwell.

“Since the boy’s death, police have been speaking to family members, including his parents. They are working with us as we establish what occurred in this young child’s life and how he came to be so badly injured,” he said at the time.

Officers carried out a scene examination of the Te Kūiti address over the weekend, which was put under police guard on the day the baby was brought to the hospital.

A neighbour told 1News of hearing “hysterical screaming” and commotion during the incident which began on Saturday afternoon.

Te Kūiti Hospital (file image).
Te Kūiti Hospital (file image). (Source: 1News)

Pitkethley said hospital staff first alerted police to the baby’s condition.

He said on Sunday: “Tragically, despite the best efforts of medical personnel, he was unable to be resuscitated. We believe these injuries were not accidental.

“The full extent of his injuries will be determined by a post-mortem, but the result will not be known for some time.

“Police do not intend to release details of specific injuries at this time.”

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