A grandmother has been found guilty of the manslaughter of her 8-month-old grandson, who died in the back of a hot car while family members were high on synthetic cannabis.
Isaiah Neil died in November 2015 after being left in the car outside the family home in Ruatoki, New Zealand.
His parents, Shane Neil and Lacey Te Whetu, had already pleaded guilty to manslaughter, confessing, “we cooked the baby,” in a police interview.
They later became key witnesses in the trial of the boy’s grandmother, Donna Catherine Parangi, who was found guilty on March 25 according to local reports.
Parangi, who had smoked drugs together with the parents that day, had denied any role in the baby’s death.
The case hinged on whether the jury believed Parangi had taken on a parental role on the day of the boy’s death and on whether they believed he died of heatstroke, according to the New Zealand Herald.
Her lawyers had claimed that other marks on the baby, and the fact that he was ill with bronchitis, cast doubt on the conclusion that he had died of heatstroke.
#BREAKING Donna Parangi has been found guilty of the manslaughter of her 8-month-old grandson Isaiah Neil.Baby Isaiah…
The three had returned home after driving to a nearby town to buy drugs, with the baby in the car. According to the prosecution, they then left the baby to sleep in the car on Parangi’s advice.
His father, Neil, told the jury that on the day his son died, Te Whetu, Parangi, and he were smoking synthetic cannabis, according to NZ Stuff. He said all three became drowsy and fell asleep for three hours.
When he woke, Neil found the boy lifeless and hot in the car, brought him in and handed him over to Te Whetu.
Te Whetu reportedly said she could still see the baby breathing, so the couple put the baby in his cot and went back to sleep.
She then tried to feed him with a bottle, before putting him in his cot to sleep.
Neil said he woke up again at around 6 p.m. and found the baby unresponsive and soaked in sweat. He told the jury the two called emergency services and while they waited for an ambulance to arrive, they sprinkled the baby with cold water to try to revive him.
“She (Te Whetu) went into a full panic state. I think we knew he was gone,” Neil told the court. “It was the most I have seen anyone panic in my life. She was grabbing his body. Trembling, screaming, out of control.”
Paramedics tried to resuscitate Isaiah inside the ambulance but were unsuccessful. The child was then was pronounced dead.
“I remember saying ‘We failed’….as parents,” Neil told the jury. “I got stoned after that.”
After the incident, Neil spoke with Detective Sgt. Max Holder and told the police officer “We cooked the baby.”
During the trial, Te Whetu said her drug addiction was so severe that she was often overcome by the effects of the drugs and would fall into a stupor and lie on the floor in random parts of the house.
“I gave my family no choice but to take care of my kids,” she said, according to Stuff, “because I couldn’t.”
Te Whetu said that Parangi was also addicted to the synthetic drug and was often so intensely under the effect of the narcotic that she was unable to provide care for the infant either. She said her mother smoked synthetic cannabis daily.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Parangi was remanded on bail until a nominal sentencing date of May 10.
Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.