Maketū father Aaron Izett sentenced for murder of 2-year-old daughter Nevaeh Ager

The Maketū man responsible for the death of his 2-year-old toddler and assaulting two other people will spend at least 17 years in prison.

Justice Christine Gordon sentenced Aaron Izett aka Pascoe, 39, in the High Court at Tauranga today, to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.

In November a jury found him guilty of one count of murder and two other assault charges.

The murder charge relates to the death of his 2-year-old daughter Nevaeh Ager whose naked body was found by police face down on the tidal flats in Little Waihi estuary on March 21, 2019.

Izett did not deny causing the fatal injuries but pleaded not guilty to murdering Nevaeh between March 20 and 21 by reason of insanity.

He was also convicted of assaulting Neveah’s great-grandfather John Sturgess during a heated exchange on March 20, 2019, and a police officer during his arrest the next day.

At his jury trial in Rotorua High Court, the jury heard evidence that Izett punched Sturgess hard enough to leave bruises on his upper arm and face, then threw stones at his car as he drove away.

Sturgess and his wife Niki told the court they were frightened of Izett’s erratic behaviour when they visited his and his former partner’s Tio Pl home on March 20, 2019.

Concerned for Nevaeh’s safety they tried to take her to her mother but Izett told them to “f-off” and they drove to the nearest police station seeking help but it was closed.

When the couple called the police communications centre the call-taker told them police could not intervene because they were not Nevaeh’s legal guardians, the court heard.

However, Nevaeh’s mother Alyson Ager was still in Tauranga Hospital recovering from a blood transfusion after the emergency birth of her second child on March 18, 2019.

On March 21 when police were visited the Tio Pl property after reports of Izett acting strangely they found him naked standing in a puddle of water holding a pitchfork and repeatedly blowing a whistle before he ran into the estuary.

After hours of failed negotiation, Izett was tasered and during the struggle to arrest him, he bit Constable Andrew McDonald, removing flesh and skin from his wrist.

During extensive search around the property, police officers discovered Nevaeh’s naked body face down in the tidal flats with two large rocks on top of her.

Pathologist Rex Tse gave evidence at Izett’s trial that Nevaeh sustained multiple bruises and abrasions to almost all of her body, caused by a weapon or weapons.

Tse said there could have been 70 to 80 blows to her body, including at least 10 or possibly up to 20 to the toddler’s head and there was also a torn ligament in her neck.

Nevaeh drowned but potentially she could have been alive if her body was not placed face down in the water, he said.

The Crown argued there was no evidence of Izett suffering from a mental illness at the time nor any evidence to support an insanity defence.

Crown prosecutor Anna Pollett said it was a “meth rage” which led to the killing and Izett committing the other assaults.

Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery QC told the jury Izett’s violent assault of his daughter and the multiple injuries she suffered were “brutal in the extreme”.

The force used spoke volumes about his intention to kill Nevaeh, Raftery said.

The jury hear Izett reported hearing voices, including a female voice threatening to kill him, and said he had been having hallucinations and grandiose thoughts about his wealth and being “a prophet”.

On March 18, 2019, during a 111 call to St John Ambulance, he told the operator he was a “multimillionaire”, the head of the Hells Angels, and the “biggest president” in New Zealand.

The call played to the jury was made after Nevaeh’s mother went into labour six weeks early and Izett repeatedly demanded an ambulance be sent immediately.

Izett also said he thought police were trying to poison him when offered some water and claimed to have no recollection of killing his daughter or his arrest.

During the trial, Izett also claimed he had been forced by gang members to drink some water laced with methamphetamine in the days leading up to his daughter’s death.

Dr Justin Barry-Walsh, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, gave evidence at the trial for the defence on his opinion of Izett’s state of mind at the time of the assaults.

He told the court he interviewed Izettt twice last year but could not definitively say whether Izett was “labouring under a disease of the mind” at the time.

Izett’s probable heavy P and cannabis use in the days prior to the killing was “highly likely to be causative factors” in his psychotic illness episode, he said.

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