Maketū murder accused showed ‘unreal’ strength and ‘aggression’ towards police

A jury has heard a man accused of murdering his daughter tried to “violently attack and bite” police officers and warned that his daughter would die if they did not release him.

Maketū Coastguard’s Todd O’Connell gave evidence today in the trial of Aaron George Izett, 38, in the High Court at Rotorua.

O’Connell said it took multiple shots of ketamine to sedate Izett, who showed “unreal”strength as he resisted arrest, and several police officers to restrain him.

Izett is defending a charge of murdering 2-year-old Nevaeh Jahkaya Whatukura Ager.

The toddler’s body was found by police on the tidal flats at Little Waihi, Maketū on March 21 last year while her mother was in the hospital, having given birth to her son Ryker.

The Crown alleges Izett’s “meth rage” led to him killing his daughter and assaulting three other people.

O’Connell said on the afternoon of March 21 last year he was paged to help police with a sea rescue in the Little Waihi estuary.

On arrival, he saw a naked man splashing around in the water about 200 metres from shore and the male’s demeanour was”quite aggressive”, he said.

Connell said once they launched their Coastguard boat in the water, Izett started to run through the water – which at times was waist-deep – and headed towards the far shore at Pukehina.

O’Connell said he and a police officer headed out on a jet ski but still could not see the naked male. They learned he had been arrested and a police officer asked for a first aid kit after being bitten on the arm, the court heard.

“There was quite a bit of blood.

“The man was very aggressive, moving very violently and trying to bite and attack anyone he could … He was saying the pain just makes him stronger and they should release him.”

Izett had to be Tasered twice, he said.

O’Connell said Izett had to be physically restrained, strapped firmly into the stretcher and sedated twice.

“I was holding his feet, but he was power kicking out at us … His strength was unreal.”

Izett never mentioned his daughter until the police told him he was being arrested.

O’Connell said Izett told officers that his daughter was home alone and “she was going to die” if they did not release him, he said.

Sonia Wright, a St John ambulance officer whose written statement was read to the court, drove Izett to Tauranga Hospital. Despite being restrained by four police officers, the accused was still aggressive and had chewed through his spit mask.

Te Puke man Patrick Archer told the court he entered into a business venture with Izett after meeting him for the first time in late 2018.

Archer said not long after he learned of Nevaeh’s death, Izett’s mother phoned him and told him that her son had suffered “some kind of breakdown”.

“When I spoke to Aaron he sounded quite broken and shaky,” he said.

Several Little Waihi residents have given similar accounts about Izett’s “erratic and odd” behaviour and that it had escalated in the weeks leading up to his daughter’s death.

This included Izett often being seen out on the mudflats in the estuary”ranting and raving”,”chanting”, swearing and “cursing the Pākehā” and often speaking gibberish.

Rim Paul said on March 21, 2019, he heard Izett out in the estuary saying “this is my land” and saw a naked Izett being “threatening towards the police” and trying to evade capture.

“Aaron was ranting and raving about the land and his ancestry, and I would say this would have gone on for about three hours.”

The court heard Nevaeh had injuries to her face and head, including her lips, ears and there were about eight to 10 blows. She also had neck injuries, which indicated the “degree of force”.

Pollett said after Nevaeh was assaulted, Izett placed her body face-down on mudflats in the estuary, then put two large rocks on top of her and she drowned.

Izett has also pleaded not guilty to charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, assault and injuring with intent to injure.

The charges relate to alleged assaults of two civilians and a police officer.

The defence has argued Izett lacked the necessary murderous intent and he should be found not guilty by reason of insanity at the time of committing the acts.

The trial continues next week.

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