Auckland High Court commences trial over father's role in infant’s death

Anthony Pickering was accused of killing his 10-month-old son in September 2020

Auckland High Court commences trial over father's role in infant’s death

The Auckland High Court has commenced the trial of Anthony Simon Pickering, who has been accused of killing his 10-month-old son. 

Pickering, 32, pleaded not guilty to the murder of Poseidyn Hemopo-Pickering, who died of significant head injuries sustained at the family’s Manurewa home in South Auckland. The Crown claimed that the injuries were “not accidental at all”.

On 5 September 2020, Poseidyn was rushed to Starship Hospital, where doctors discovered a “very large, eggshell-like fracture” on his head and substantial bleeding in and around his brain. According to Pickering, who was home at the time of the incident, Poseidyn was playing with his two-year-old sister when he hit his head on a windowsill in the family’s shared bedroom.

When Poseidyn’s mother returned home, she called an ambulance on noticing the infant’s unresponsive state. Poseidyn died of his injuries a few hours later.

Prosecutor Todd Simmonds shot down the claim that Poseidyn’s “catastrophic, severe and massive” head injuries were an accident. He alleged that Pickering had admitted to family members that he struck Poseidyn in a bout of anger following a dispute with his partner as to whether or not he was the infant’s biological father.

“[Mr Pickering] was alone with his baby boy for just under 20 minutes, and for whatever reason…he became sufficiently frustrated that afternoon that he lashed out,” Simmonds told the jury during his opening statement. 

The prosecution also pointed to old leg fractures discovered by doctors. Simmonds acknowledged that while the fractures were not related to Poseidyn’s death, they were “nonetheless significant in their own right.”

Pickering’s counsel Quentin Duff told the court in his opening statement that it would “not be the first time police have fixated on a father and they’ve gotten it horribly, horribly wrong”. He urged jurors to “set aside the step-father fallacy”, calling it “a terrible cliché that the police knew they could hang a case on because they knew it plays into our collective prejudice”.

Pickering’s jury trial, which is being presided over by Justice Michael Robinson, is set to continue.

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