Did mum kill baby? - defence
Troy Taylor, concussed, sleepdeprived and irritable, ‘‘lost it’’ and inflicted 59 injuries on baby Ihaka Stokes, a court has heard.
Taylor, the former partner of Ihaka’s mother, has denied assaulting and murdering the toddler on July 2 and 3, 2015. He told police shortly after Ihaka died in hospital that he believed the 14-month-old sustained the injuries by falling in his cot.
In the High Court in Christchurch yesterday, Crown prosecutor Courtney Martyn said Ihaka’s injuries were ‘‘completely inconsistent’’ with such a fall. Taylor had lashed out, she 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 the prosecution and defence agreed Ihaka’s injuries were ‘‘non-accidental’’.
Some in the public gallery were brought to tears as Martyn detailed some of the 59 separate injuries Ihaka suffered, including 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.
According to Taylor’s initial police interview, Martyn said, 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 the child’s mother, Mikala 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.’’
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 doubt that Ihaka died of a non-accidental head injury.
‘‘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.
‘‘Just because you have concussion doesn’t make you a murderer . . . Was it Miss Stokes or was it Mr Taylor?
‘‘The case you have to decide is has the Crown proved to you beyond a reasonable doubt that it was Mr Taylor? Which means that you’ve got to be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that it wasn’t Miss Stokes.’’
The trial continues today.
Murder accused Troy Taylor appears in the High Court at Christchurch yesterday.
Christchurch baby Ihaka Stokes died in 2015.