20 Mar 2017

Defence suggests mother to blame for toddler's death

6:39 pm on 20 March 2017

The defence lawyer for a man accused of murdering a 15-month-old boy has suggested the boy's mother is to blame.

Troy Kevin Taylor

Troy Kevin Taylor is on trial for murder. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

Troy Taylor, who is on trial in the High Court in Christchurch for assaulting and murdering Ihaka Stokes in 2015, lived with Mikala Stokes and her son in their Bryndwr home.

Ms Stokes considered him to be a stepfather to her boy.

In the Crown's opening address, lawyer Courtney Martyn said a series of concussions left Mr Taylor struggling to sleep and with a short fuse.

At the same time, Ihaka was not settling due to 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."

Ms Martyn said Mr Taylor claimed the injuries were caused by the boy banging his head against a wall and falling.

But she said this was an attempt by Mr Taylor to cover up his role in causing the injuries, which were not accidental.

She then put a photo up for the jury to see of a bruised and unconscious Ihaka Stokes and read out the toddler's post-mortem report.

"Baby Ihaka suffered bruising to the forehead, right eye, left and right ear, to the scalp, behind the left ear, bruising to the right jaw line, bruising over the tip of the right shoulder and both upper arms," she read.

"He also had fracture of both shoulder blades, fracture of the left forearm, fracture of the jaw. He also suffered head injuries and these comprised of a bilateral acute subdural haemorrhage, brain swelling and bilateral retinal haemorrhage."

The image was upsetting to a number of family members in the public gallery; one had to leave the court when it was displayed.

Others shed tears and comforted each other.

Referring to the photo, defence lawyer Philip Shamy reminded the jury to put aside their emotions in weighing up the evidence in the case.

Fifteen-month-old Ihaka Paora Braxton Stokes

Ihaka Stokes was 15 months old when he died Photo: Facebook

Mr Shamy then pointed the finger at Ihaka's mother.

Before the jury decided whether Mr Taylor was responsible, it first had to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not Ms Stokes who inflicted the injuries, he said.

"On that Friday there were two people in that house but for about three-and-a-half hours, it was only Ms Stokes, a heavily pregnant young woman with a child with an ear infection."

Mikala Stokes will be the first witness called by the Crown on Tuesday.

She will then be cross-examined by Mr Shamy.