10 Feb 2014

Auckland man denies toddler's murder

10:07 pm on 10 February 2014

The lawyer for the man accused of murdering his partner's two-and-a-half year-old daughter says her mother was responsible for the fatal injuries.

Michael Joseph Martin has denied charges of murder and of failing to provide the necessaries of life to Leilani Lotonu'u on 9 June 2012 by not calling an ambulance.

The Crown says Mr Martin used a one-hour window of opportunity to hit his partner's daughter in the stomach so hard that he ruptured an internal organ. The girl died the next day.

Prosecutor Christine Gordon, QC, said Mr Martin was at home with the two-and-a-half year-old while her mother, Amy Lorigan, went shopping.

"The Crown case is that on the 9th of June and most likely that while Amy Lorigan was at the supermarket, that frustration caused him to snap, if only for a moment, and inflict the fatal injuries on Leilani."

Ms Gordon said when Ms Lorigan woke the next day at 5.30am, she found her daughter's eyes were rolling back in her head. Despite efforts by ambulance staff who arrived soon after, the girl could not be resuscitated.

But Michael Martin's lawyer Lorraine Smith told the jury that it was not the accused, but the mother who inflicted the fatal injuries.

"You're going to hear evidence from a neighbour who heard Leilani screaming about 1pm on the 9th of June, and that neighbour heard Amy yelling at Leilani to shut up."

Ms Smith says a child health expert will give evidence that the injuries were inflicted while Ms Lorigan was looking after the girl and not some hours later when she left the girl in the sole care of Mr Martin.

A jury of seven women and five men have been chosen to hear the trial before Justice Lang.