Two-year-old JJ Lawrence was killed by a second person, probably his mother, the defence in the child murder trial has said.
The accused, Joel Loffley, finally revealed his hand yesterday with defence lawyer Roger Chambers saying his client had been the victim of a "selective prosecution" and "imagination" on the part of the Crown.
Chambers focused on the evidence of Jessica Peat, the partner of Loffley's brother Gabriel, who was in the house the morning JJ was killed.
The Crown says Loffley assaulted JJ then showered him, dressed him, put him to bed and left the house.
Peat had testified that while Loffley was out she heard JJ's door being opened and then closed a few minutes later.
"That is when the defence says the assault on JJ took place," Chambers said.
Peat said she saw Loffley "freak out" when he returned and discovered JJ not breathing and only wearing a nappy.
Chambers said the medical evidence was that JJ's horrendous injuries would have caused the boy's death "pretty quickly", but his body was still warm when ambulance officers arrived.
"The assault on JJ was not earlier on, before Joel and Gabriel left the house. It is my submission that someone went into JJ's room, damaged JJ, and removed clothing."
Chambers said it was not known who this person was but he noted JJ's mother Josephine Loffley had made an admission to Loffley.
He also pointed to Peat's evidence that there was "giggling" coming from Lawrence and her family as they were waiting outside, immediately after the death.
"People who are angry can sometimes have the strength of demons. Did Josie have a melt-down for whatever reason?" he asked the jury.
Earlier, anticipating the defence case, prosecutor Phil Hamlin asked: "Why on Earth would this mother want to kill her child?"
Hamlin asked the jury who was violent and controlling in the relationship and who had motive to kill JJ.
He pointed to lies Loffley told that distanced himself from any harm to JJ, including telling police one of the boy's broken arms happened when he was staying with family. Josephine Lawrence had testified that Loffley had admitted he may have caused it.
The Crown case was that on the morning of November 14, 2011, Loffley struck JJ at their Orakei, Auckland, home while Lawrence was out of the house.
Doctors said the injuries to the boy's abdomen looked like the result of a horse's kick or a car crash - his pancreas and liver had been pushed back onto his spine with such force they split in half.
JJ was also found to have cannabis in his system, which Lawrence testified Loffley used to give to the boy.
Loffley has maintained JJ fell off a bed and his legs went over his head when he hit the ground.
Hamlin said this was Loffley's "big lie" that kept changing throughout various accounts to Lawrence and police.
Chambers said his client felt responsible for JJ's death because "JJ was in his care at what he thought was the relevant time - the bounce off the bed".
"A sense of responsibility for JJ's death and guilt of his murder are two different things."
Chambers said the jury had heard evidence of alcohol, drugs and sponging off the taxpayer.
"I am not asking that you like this man and his somewhat useless life to date... but let us not have a double tragedy."
Justice Patrick Keane will sum up today before asking the jury to consider its verdict.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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