Home > Abuse, Child Abuse, Killing > One-year-old boy sent to stay with godparents, dead a week later.

One-year-old boy sent to stay with godparents, dead a week later.

'Popo', Terepo Taura-Griffiths, aged one, now deceased.

One-year-old Terepo Taura-Griffiths, also known as ‘Popo’, has died of massive head injuries a week after being sent to stay with his godparents.

Police investigate baby’s death.

Police are investigating the death of a 1-year-old baby who died with massive head injuries. The baby, whom the Herald on Sunday has agreed to refer to only by his nickname of Popo, had only just turned 1 when he received the injuries at the home of his godparents.

Popo’s mother Terepai Benioni made the agonising decision to turn off his life support two days after he was hurt. He finally died at Middlemore Hospital on November 6, though his death certificate listed the place of death as an Otahuhu address.

“It was the hardest decision,” said Benioni. “It should not be me burying my son; it should be my son burying me.” Benioni said her devastated family had only recently celebrated Popo’s first birthday when his godparents called wanting to take the little boy out for dinner. With three older children and a newborn baby, Benioni said she and her partner needed the break.

“He was supposed to stay for the night but that turned into a week,” Benioni said. On Friday, November 4, Benioni received the phone call that would change her life forever.

“We got to Middlemore and we got the bad news that my son wasn’t going to make it,” Benioni said. “At the hospital they said it was a skull fracture and they kept saying he wasn’t going to make it.

“He had tubes everywhere but it was like he was gone, he was already dead. We waited ’til the Sunday and then turned off life support. It was hard.” Benioni said she was told he’d been injured at the god-parents’ Otahuhu house six hours earlier.

“They [the godparents] said he had a seizure and he leaped for a mirror that was in front of him. But there are so many stories coming I don’t know what to do.”

Benioni said she and her partner were barely coping but were being assisted by their families and the Cook Island community. “I have my family for support. I have been out a lot to see his grave. Even if I have to catch a bus or taxi.”

Benioni still had the box of her son’s birthday presents, most of them unopened. “He had a chance to open two of them. One was a little dog that barks, he loved that.”

She also cherishes a rattling ball her son was playing with before he went away. “The other day I heard that ball rattling and there was no one else in there so I know my son is with me in spirit,” Benioni said. She was sorry she ever let her son out of her sight.

“I have got a lot of regrets. If I could turn back time I wouldn’t have handed my son over at all,” Benioni said. The godparents have since moved from the Otahuhu home where Popo died and are staying with family in Otara.

The Herald on Sunday understood their three children – all aged under 10 years – were in the house at the time Popo was injured.

Categories: Abuse, Child Abuse, Killing
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