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.

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