Police investigate suspicious baby death

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Police in Whanganui have launched a homicide investigation following the death of a baby girl in Whanganui. Police investigate suspicious baby death

Police in Whanganui have launched a homicide investigation following the death of a baby girl in Whanganui.

Two-month-old Hinekawa Topia was driven to Wanganui Hospital by her parents shortly before 1pm on (Thursday, 12 January). She was not breathing and attempts by her father and hospital staff to resuscitate her were unsuccessful. Police were contacted by the hospital at approximately 1.20pm.

A post mortem has concluded that Hinekawa had suffered a head injury, considered non-accidental. No further information about the injury will be disclosed.

Hinekawa was one of triplets. The other two babies, both girls, are currently in hospital as a precaution to be medically assessed. Child Youth and Family have interim custody of the girls along with a five-year-old boy.

Hinekawa has been released back to her family and her funeral is taking place today.

Police put an investigation team in place as soon as notification of the death was received on Thursday to ensure that all available evidence and information was captured from the outset. The post mortem result has therefore not changed the way in which the investigation was already being driven.

Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong said: “What we have been focusing on since Thursday afternoon is identifying everyone who will be able to assist us in building up a picture of Hinekawa’s movements in recent weeks and her health. There are a number of people that we now need to speak to in detail as Hinekawa has recently stayed at both the family home and with extended whanau.

“We fully acknowledge the sensitivities of cases such as this and it is important that people to not leap to conclusions and start pointing fingers prematurely. We have to be thorough and meticulous and work closely with medical professionals, the pathologist and Hinekawa’s family. That process will take time and should not be rushed.”

Approximately 20 staff are working on the inquiry. Two houses were put under Police guard on Thursday; one in Whanganui and one in South Taranaki. Both houses have been subject to scene examinations by ESR and have now been released back to the owners.

Area enquiries are being carried and Police are sourcing any CCTV that might assist with the inquiry.

NOTE TO EDITORS: Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Forlong will be available for a stand-up at 5pm at Whanganui Police Station. Any broadcast media not able to make this opportunity and wanting a telephone interview should lodge their request with Kim Perks. There will be no interview opportunities before 5pm.

Media enquiries should be referred to Communications Manager Kim Perks on 027 234 8256.
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