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Smothering, stomping, drowning: Huntly man inflicts hellish torture on 23-month-old girl

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Bridjid Tamihana, 27, from Huntly, inflicted injuries to every part of the toddler’s body after stomping on her, punching her, and breaking her teeth, trying to drown her and stomp on her. Photo/123rf

Warning: This story contains graphic information about the abuse inflicted on a young child

After punching a 23-month-old with such force it broke her tooth, Bridjid Tamihana grabbed a pillow and forced it into the toddler’s face, smothering her, as blood poured from her mouth.

Another time he dropped the little girl face-first on the ground, stomped on her back in steel-capped boots then picked her up by the throat and threw her against a brick wall.

Then there was the time he poked her eyes until they bled. And, the time he left her floating face down in a bath of cold water.

These are just some of the horrific assaults the Huntly man inflicted on the toddler who was eventually left without any part of her body being injured. Yet, somehow she survived.

Today, Tamihana appeared in the Hamilton District Court where he admitted 11 charges in relation to the assaults he inflicted on the little girl between July 1, 2022, and October 20, 2022 – when she was finally taken to Waikato Hospital.

The offending first began when the 27-year-old and the toddler were in a lounge together and he punched her multiple times in the face, breaking one of her teeth.

As blood poured from her mouth she cried but Tamihana grabbed a pillow and forced it into her face, telling her to shut up.

The victim was later seen with blood around her mouth and crying while trying to get out a window of the house.

Tamihana saw her, grabbed her and smashed her head into the wooden framing. As she yelled out for her mother he punched her again and threw her across the room.

Multiple thumps and cries could then be heard coming from the house, along with him telling her to “f*** up”.

One of the more serious wounding charges came about after he was bathing the victim.

Tamihana’s sister instead found her floating, lifeless underwater. She pulled her out but Tamihana tried to stop her. The water was cold.

The little girl was put in the recovery position as Tamihana said: “She was supposed to be dead.”

He then pushed past his sister and dropped his knee repeatedly on the victim’s face, causing blood to spit out.

Two weeks later, family returned to the property and the victim’s face was covered in bruises.

At 10am one day, the child was calling out for her mother so Tamihana punched her twice in the face. Family intervened and she hobbled away with help from another preschooler who was there.

Tamihana then picked her up by her hair and told her to calm down.

He then bit her right ear, threw her on the couch, and pushed his fingers into her eyes until blood flowed out.

On multiple occasions, Tamihana called her a “spoilt bitch” and gave an electronic tablet to another child in the house and encouraged them to hit her with it.

He also encouraged the other child to hit her with a toy dinosaur. When she refused to, he would do it.

The little girl was later seen bleeding from the gums and struggling to eat.

Another of the wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm charges came after Tamihana was outside in his car smoking cannabis.

The victim and another child came out and tried to get in the car. He scared her and she fell over, hitting her head on the concrete.

Tamihana got out and picked her up before dropping her face-first on the ground. He then stood on her back and stomped on it three times with his steel cap boots before picking her up by her throat and throwing her against a brick wall. She couldn’t walk afterwards.

An ambulance was finally called on October 12 when she suffered a prolonged seizure.

The victim suffered a multitude of serious injuries including her eyes being swollen shut, unable to walk properly, subdural haematomas, extensive and severe retinal haemorrhages to both eyes, a bite mark to her cheek, spinal fractures, broken teeth, two fractured vertebrae along with other cuts and bruises.

A paediatrician’s examination said she’d likely suffer long-term consequences from her injuries including visual impairment.

A charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice charge related to Tamihana trying to stop his sister from telling police about all the violence she witnessed, stating he would try to get her children taken off her.

Tamihana was today convicted on all 11 charges – three of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, three of assault with intent to injure, representative charges of assault with a weapon and assaulting a child, along with charges of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, ill-treatment of a child, and wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.

He was convicted by Judge Kim Saunders, who also lifted his interim name suppression order, and remanded Tamihana in further custody to reappear for sentencing in August.

Belinda Feek is an Open Justice reporter based in Waikato. She has worked at NZME for nine years and has been a journalist for 20.

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