Troy Taylor 'lost it' and fatally injured baby Ihaka Stokes, court hears; Defence blames mother
Accused child-killer Troy Taylor has placed the blame for the death of baby Ihaka Stokes squarely with the child's mother.
Taylor pleaded not guilty in the High Court in Christchurch on Monday to charges of murdering and assaulting 14-month-old Ihaka in July 2015. He told police shortly after Ihaka's death that he believed the toddler was injured falling in his cot.
Ihaka suffered 59 separate injuries before he died. Several people in the public gallery were brought to tears as Crown Prosecutor Courtney Martyn detailed just some of them. They included fractures of the jaw, left forearm, both shoulder blades and thoracic vertebrae. He had bruising around his head and upper arms, which caused the haemorrhages and brain swelling that killed him.
Ihaka's injuries were "completely inconsistent" with a fall in his cot, Martyn said. Taylor, the former partner of the child's mother, had lashed out, he said.
"[The defendant] was a man suffering from sleep deprivation, ongoing headaches, several bouts of concussion.
"Ihaka had been generally out of sorts, developing an ear infection. It was this unfortunate combination the Crown says that no doubt led to the defendant losing it and causing Ihaka's death."
The court heard that the prosecution and defence now agreed Ihaka's injuries were "non-accidental". The Crown would prove it was Taylor, not Ihaka's mother Mikala Stokes, who inflicted them, Martyn said.
Defence counsel Phil Shamy urged the jury of six men and six women to keep an open mind in such an emotional case.
"There is no dispute that Ihaka died of a non-accidental head injury," he said.
"The key issue in this trial is who did kill Ihaka Stokes? On that Friday [July 3] there were two people in that house – Mr Taylor and Miss Stokes – but for about three and a half hours there was only Miss Stokes. A heavily pregnant young woman with a child who had an ear infection."
The court heard that according to Taylor's initial police interview he woke about 10.40pm on July 3 when he heard "one loud bang". He said he recognised it as the sound of Ihaka falling in his cot.
He woke Stokes minutes later to say there was "something wrong" with Ihaka. The child was found unresponsive in his cot. He had blue lips and was struggling to breath.
Records showed Taylor called 111 and performed CPR on Ihaka. Resuscitation continued when Ihaka arrived at Christchurch Hospital. He was pronounced dead at 11.40pm.
"How baby Ihaka came to sustain his injuries and the defendant's explanation, that will be the centre of this trial," Martyn said.
"The Crown says the defendant's explanation . . . is untrue. There were no bangs. Rather the defendant said this at the time to try and explain away the injuries he had caused as an accident."
The trial continues on Tuesday.
* An earlier version of this story reported the jury comprising seven women and five men. Two jurors have been replaced.