Verdict looms in JJ murder trial

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 14:26 13/11/2012
JJ Lawrence
JJ LAWRENCE: The two-year-old died at his home in Auckland in November 2011.
Joel Loffley
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JOEL LOFFLEY: The 29-year-old is accused of murdering two-year-old JJ Lawrence.

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The jury in the JJ Lawrence murder case has retired to consider its verdict.

Justice Patrick Keane summed up the case this afternoon saying two-year-old JJ's death was sudden and shocking but it was not the jury's role to find someone responsible.

"Your duty is to decide on the evidence whether you can be sure Mr Loffley is guilty of the charge."

The Crown case is that Joel Loffley assaulted the toddler on the morning of November 14 last year while mother Josephine Lawrence was absent from their east Auckland home.

JJ was hit in the stomach and later died from horrendous injuries to his internal organs.

Loffley was seen showering the boy then putting him to bed before leaving the house when Lawrence returned.

He told Lawrence JJ had fallen off the bed, onto his head.

The defence case is that a witness heard someone going into JJ's room while Loffley was out and it was this person - probably Lawrence - who fatally injured the toddler.

Lawrence was angry on the morning of the death and did not show much emotion after JJ died, the defence contended.

Loffley discovered JJ not breathing in his bed when he returned and he was not able to be revived.

Justice Keane said the Crown had no eye witness but the jury was entitled to rely on a number of "strands" to make their decision.

The Crown says JJ received two broken arms and numerous other injuries once Loffley moved in with Lawrence.

He was also said to have fed the boy marijuana smoke to get him stoned and Loffley "modified" his accounts of what happened as the medical evidence revealed JJ died from stomach injuries.

While allowing for a circumstantial case, the judge cautioned the jury.

"Even if you find he has a tendency to violence that does not mean he committed the charge."

Loffley admitted assaulting his former partners but he rejected ever hurting JJ.

The judge also said the jury should not take into account that Loffley decided not to give evidence or call any in his own defence.

He was entitled to the presumption of innocence and the onus was on the Crown to prove him guilty.

The jury retired at 2pm.

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