NEWS

 Nausori Hills Murder Trial- Day 1 ‘Miracle Baby’ Was Covered In Vomit, Crawling Ants, Witnesses Tell

The witness statements were made during the trial of a 63-year-old New Zealand resident, who is accused of murdering a family of five at the Nausori Highlands in Nadi in August 2019.
16 Dec 2021 12:27
 Nausori Hills Murder Trial- Day 1 ‘Miracle Baby’ Was Covered In Vomit, Crawling Ants, Witnesses Tell
Miracle baby’ Samaira Kumar, with one of the women who helped look after her when she was found in the Nausori Highlands on August 28, 2019. Photo: Waisea Nasokia

A witness has told the High Court in Lautoka that 11-month-old Samaira Ku­mar was found covered in vomit, with ants crawling around her, as she cried lying over her dead grandmother’s chest, a metre away from a dangerous cliff.

This state witness, a truck driver who picked up Samaira, said the child looked dirty as ants crawled over her and over the four deceased bodies lying on a rocky slope at the Nausori Highlands.

The witness statements were made during the trial of a 63-year-old New Zealand resident, who is accused of murdering a family of five at the Nausori Highlands in Nadi in August 2019.

The three-week-long trial started yesterday at the High Court in Lau­toka before Judge Justice Thushara Rajasinghe.

The state called four out of the 64 witnesses yesterday.

The charges:

The man on trial is Muhammed Raheesh Isoof, a permanent resi­dent of New Zealand, and had worked as a bus driver prior to

arriving in Fiji and residing in Le­galega in Nadi.

Isoof denies five counts of mur­der. It is alleged that Isoof between August 25 and August 26, 2019, murdered Nirmal Kumar, 63, his wife Usha Devi, 54, their daughter Nileshni Kajal, 34, and Ms Kajal’s daughters Sanah Singh, 11, Sama­rah Singh, 8.

He is also charged with one count of attempted murder of Samaira Kumar, who was found abandoned near the bodies of four of the five deceased persons at Nausori High­lands.

Representations:

The State prosecutors are Semi Babitu, Taitusi Tuenuku, and Prenika Lata from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The defence counsels are Iqbal Khan, Degei Sadrata, and Tevita Kalou from Iqbal Khan and Associ­ates.

Trial Day 1:

State’s Opening Statement

Mr Babitu in his opening state­ment highlighted to the Court that the State’s case was based on cir­cumstantial evidence.

He said with no direct evidence available in this case, the case rested entirely on circumstantial evidence and the state would be calling about 64 witnesses to give evidence.

“The witnesses range from neigh­bours of the accused and the de­ceased in Legalega, Nadi,” Mr Ba­bitu said.

“The case involves the death of five family members with a sole survivor; the accused was known to the deceased as he was from the same neighbourhood and a fre­quent visitor to their house when they came to visit New Zealand.

“We will also call witnesses who have CCTV footage that caught the accused and the deceased’s vehicle, including the last footage when the accused was heading up to Nausori highlands and back; the state will also call witnesses in the form of Police officers engaged in the in­vestigation, including their foren­sic.

“The state will also be relying on DNA results for items tested by Forensic as it was confirmed that some of the items found at the scene were found to have the ac­cused person’s DNA.

“In the prosecution of this case, the state’s case is that the deceased persons were involved in non-medical forms of healing and the accused was assisting in the non-medical forms of healing and the items were found at the scene with the accused person DNA on it.

“Further, the state will be relying on witnesses who will show the in­fluence the accused person had on this family and it was his influence we see, led to the deceased family to consume what later caused their death, which was pesticide,” Mr Babitu said in court.

He added that the state’s theory of the case was that the accused was well-known to the family of the deceased, he was in a very close relationship with the family, per­forming certain rituals, which the deceased family agreed to.

He said due to his influence on the family, he was able to influence the family to go up to Nausori High­lands to perform certain rituals; these rituals led to the deceased persons consuming what was later identified as a pesticide.

“The circumstantial evidence in this case against the accused, is that he was the last person seen with the deceased persons alive,” Mr Babitu said.

“The accused had picked them in his rental car and taken them to the Nausori highlands, had re­turned alone to Legalega, Nadi.

“He did not tell anyone where he had gone, even to his wife.

“Mr Kumar’s mobile phone was found in the front seat of the ac­cused’s rental car and had the pic­ture of the accused on it and pho­tos from the crime scene.

“The accused told witnesses present with him at the house on August 26, 2019, that he did not go there and now Mr Kumar is dead and he has left all the problem on him.

“The accused had informed one of the witnesses for the state about chemicals being mixed in the car, he having an affair with the de­ceased, about money being given and about dropping them at Nau­sori Highlands,” Mr Babitu ad­dressed to the Court.

He further told the court that the State’s circumstantial evidence was sufficient for a conviction on all charges against the accused.

Prosecution Witness 1: Setareki Nagala, 33, farmer.

Mr Nagala, in his evidence, in­formed the court that he was look­ing for his horse along the main road at around 9am and while com­ing back with his horse, he saw things lying on the ground at Nau­sori Highlands.

He added that when he went clos­er while riding his horse, he saw a child and four people lying on the ground.

Mr Nagala said when he went even closer to the people, he shout­ed “oye” and the child looked up at him.

He told the court that the child was leaning on the chest of her grandmother.

“I did not go further down because I was afraid because I saw the bod­ies on the ground,” Mr Nagala said.

“I heard a truck on the other side and ran to the main road to stop the truck and inform the driver about the bodies lying at the rocky slope.

“While going up to the main road, I smelled perfume and when I looked over, I saw another female’s body lying on the ground at a dif­ferent spot from the other four bod­ies,” Mr Nagala told the court.

Mr Nagala said he noticed that ants were crawling on the body of the female and saliva coming out of her mouth.

He added that when he approached the truck driver, he informed him of the bodies and asked him to go with him to see them.

He further testified that he in­formed the truck driver, named Javed, to pick up the child and hand her to him and go up to the main road where the truck was parked and called the Police.

He further testified that while waiting for the Police, some nurses from the Ministry of Health ar­rived and Mr Nagala and Javed informed them of the bodies found.

Cross-Examination:

Mr Khan questioned the witness, whether he had given any state­ments to the Police to which Mr Nagala said he did and it was at the crime scene on the day of the incident.

Mr Khan questioned the witness as to why he did not include ants crawling and saliva coming out of the deceased’s mouth in his Police statement.

Mr Nagala responded that be­cause his mind was running around and he was in shock to wit­ness such an incident.

When Mr Khan questioned the witness why he did not mention to the Police the perfume smell, the witness remained quiet.

Prosecution Witness 2: Mohammed Javed, 35, truck driver.

Mr Javed testified to the court that at 10.30am he was stopped by Mr Nagala while on his way to pick a job and was informed of the bod­ies and a child down at the rocky slope.

He testified that he went down with Mr Nagala to see the bodies which were about 100 metres away from the main road.

He added on the way to the bodies, he spotted a female on a top slope drain.

Mr Javed said he was frightened when he saw the female’s body and called Nadi Police Station to in­form of the same.

“The Police officer asked me to send photos, however, I could not as I did not have a camera phone so the officer asked how many people were there and I informed him of it,” Mr Javed said.

“When I went down, I witnessed the baby crying and she was on top of the older woman’s chest.

“I held onto the grass and went down to the slope where the bod­ies were and witnessed ants com­ing out from mouth and nose.

“I also saw the baby was cov­ered in vomit and looked dirty.

“The baby and the bodies were just about a metre away from a 150-metre fall from the cliff,” Mr Javed testified.

He further told the court that he crossed the bodies of the two young girls and picked up the baby.

He added that he held the baby with one hand, while using the other to hold the grass and climb back up.

Mr Javed told the court that he had noticed that one of the girls was lying face up while the other was on sideways and the older woman’s body was face up and the baby was on her chest crying.

“After I brought the baby up to the truck, I gave her water while waiting for the Police who arrived around 12pm,” Mr Javed said.

“The nurses who came had checked the baby.”

Cross-examination:

Mr Javed testified that he gave his statement to the Police at the crime scene as to what he saw and did to assist the baby.

Mr Khan questioned the witness why he did not inform the Police of the ants crawling on the bodies and the baby to which Mr Javed responded that he did inform the Police.

He further testified that he was in shock as it was the first time he had witnessed such incidents.

Prosecution Witness 3: Staff Nurse Elenoa Vatunitu, 40.

Ms Vatunitu informed the court that she was traveling to Nausori Highlands Village Nursing Station to relieve another nurse for three months when she came across a man named Javed, trying to stop the vehicle.

She testified that Mr Javed had in­formed her and her team members that there was a case of murder and held onto a baby.

Ms Vatunitu said she tried to go to the scene, but could not, so she called the Health Centre to inform the Police of the incident.

“When the Police arrived, they handed me the baby and we checked her temperature which was 35.7 degrees which meant the baby must have been in cold for some time,” Ms Vatunitu said.

“We wrapped the baby to make her warm and fed her milk and wa­ter as she was hungry.

“After that, we took the baby to the Nursing Station and the baby was with me for two and a half hours before the baby was taken to the Nadi Hospital for medical ex­amination.”

Ms Vatunitu said the baby’s physi­cal presence looked distressed as she had sunken eyes as if she did not sleep well and was dehydrated.

Cross-examination:

Mr Khan questioned the witness if she had informed the Police to record in her statement about the baby’s temperature and if she knew why it was not in her state­ment, Ms Vatunitu remained si­lent.

Mr Khan further questioned her despite the temperature of the baby, was the baby in a stable con­dition to which Ms Vatunitu re­sponded that according to the tem­perature, it was not stable.

She informed the court that she tried to stabilise the baby at the Nursing Station she was fed.

Prosecution Witness 4: Doctor Mousheen Khan, 32.

Dr Khan was based at the Nadi Hospital and had examined the 11-month-old Samaira at around 3.30pm.

He testified that in his examina­tion, he found the baby was dehy­drated, had sunken eyes, was not fed well, however, she did not have any cuts, bruises, swelling or lac­eration.

Dr Khan also testified that there were no signs of sexual abuse on the baby.

He testified that the dehydration may have caused due to the fact that the baby was not fed milk or water for a long period of time and when she was fed, she drank milk and water eagerly.

Dr Khan also told the court that for observation purposes, the baby was transferred to the children’s specialist at Lautoka Hospital.

There was no cross-examination done for the doctor as Mr Khan informed the court that he did not challenge the medical findings of the doctor.

The trial continues today.

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj

 



Fijisun Ad Space


Get updates from the Fiji Sun, handpicked and delivered to your inbox.


By entering your email address you're giving us permission to send you news and offers. You can opt-out at any time.


Fiji Sun Instagram
Subscribe-to-Newspaper