Exactly one year after the death of JJ Lawrence, Joel Loffley has been found guilty of his murder.
Members of the public burst into tears in the High Court at Auckland as the verdict was read.
Loffley showed no emotion as he was led to the cells.
The Crown case was that Loffley, the partner of JJ's mother Josephine Lawrence, assaulted the toddler on the morning of November 14, 2011, while Lawrence was absent from their east Auckland home.
JJ was hit in the stomach and later died from horrendous injuries to his internal organs.
His liver and pancreas were forced onto his spine with such force they split in two.
Lawrence returned and found Loffley showering the boy before putting him to bed and leaving the house.
He told Lawrence JJ had fallen off the bed, onto his head.
The defence case relied on a witness who heard someone going into JJ's room while Loffley was out.
It was this person - probably Lawrence, the defence said - who fatally injured the toddler.
The Crown's case had no eye witnesses but the jury used a number of "strands" to make their decision.
JJ received two broken arms and numerous other injuries once Loffley moved in with Lawrence.
Lawrence testified Loffley fed the boy marijuana smoke to get him stoned and assaulted her.
Other family members said JJ appeared scared of Loffley.
Once the police investigation into the death began, Loffley "modified" his accounts of what happened as the medical evidence revealed JJ died from stomach injuries.
Loffley admitted assaulting his former partners to police but he rejected ever hurting JJ.
He was remanded in custody for sentencing on February 14.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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