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Man killed girlfriend's baby after she took too long to buy heroin, court told

Date

Mark Russell

A man accused of killing his girlfriend's 12-month-old son dropped the baby on his head five times because he had waited too long for her to get heroin from a Richmond drug dealer, a court has heard.

Paul Ta Vuong allegedly believed his girlfriend, Kate Leithhead, was "f...ing around" or "f...ing" the drug dealer so he decided to play rough with the baby, Silas, the court was told.

Mr Ta Vuong has pleaded not guilty to murdering Silas on May 15 last year at Ms Leithhead's Richmond apartment.

In his opening address to the jury on Friday, Crown prosecutor Andrew Grant said it would be alleged that after his arrest, Mr Ta Vuong was being held on remand when he told two prisoners, to be known as Witness A and Witness B, how he had deliberately dropped Silas on his head five times because he was angry at having to wait so long for Ms Leithhead to return from buying heroin.

A post mortem examination revealed Silas had died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Mr Grant said a laceration to Silas' liver could have been caused by "direct blows" to Silas' stomach or by a crushing, squeezing process.

Mr Ta Vuong claimed the bruises on Silas' body might have come from the game 'aeroplane' where he would throw Silas up in the air and catch him.

Mr Ta Vuong and Ms Leithhead had met in late September 2012 when they were both residents at Odyssey House, a rehabilitation facility for people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Ms Leithhead was five months pregnant with Silas at the time. 

Defence barrister Saul Holt, SC, who described the case as "distressing", said Silas had been a delightful, adventurous, lovely little boy.

He said Mr Ta Vuong was upset over Silas's death because he had established a genuine bond with the boy and had been acting essentially in a parental role.

Mr Ta Vuong had been significantly affected by drugs when caring for Silas after Ms Leithhead left to buy heroin from a local Richmond drug dealer.

He claimed he was carrying Silas from the bathroom when he slipped and lost control of the boy who fell and hit his head. He believed he might have fallen on top of Silas.

Mr Ta Vuong claimed he put Silas to bed when he was still breathing before he and Ms Leithhead injected the heroin and fell asleep. When they later checked on Silas just after 4.30pm, he was dead.

He was lying on his back with his eyes open, wrapped in a blanket. 

"This was not an intentional violent act. This was not murder. It was an awful accident," Mr Holt said. 

The defence barrister said Silas had suffered a series of complex skull fractures and head injuries from the accidental fall. 

Mr Ta Vuong accepted moral responsibility for Silas' death because he had been under the influence of heroin when he dropped Silas but denied intentionally killing the baby. 

Mr Holt told the jury they would hear how Mr Ta Vuong had had a positive and nurturing relationship with Silas, and urged them to reject the evidence of the two remand prisoners, saying they were liars.

The trial, before Justice Karin Emerton, continues.

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