The Crown alleges Troy Kevin Taylor “lost it” and caused the injuries that led to the death of the 14-month-old son of his partner in July 2015.
However, the defence case will be that there were two people in the house on the night of the boy’s death, and the Crown would have to satisfy the jury beyond reasonable doubt that the injuries were not inflicted by the boy’s mother, Mikala Stokes.
She will be the first witness when the trial begins hearing evidence on Tuesday.
Both sides accept that the child’s injuries – 29 injuries were noted at the post mortem – were not inflicted accidentally, and there had been no intruder.
Taylor was suffering the effects of repeated concussions at the time, Crown prosecutor Courtney Martyn told the jury as the trial of Taylor began in the High Court at Christchurch today.
Miss Martyn said Taylor had earlier said after receiving the initial head injury in November 2014, that he found he was “more irritable and had a shorter fuse”.
She said he suffered several more concussions which resulted in ongoing problems including headaches and trouble sleeping. He was put on medication and was still suffering from the problems in July 2015 when the infant, Ihaka Paora Braxton Stokes, was found injured in his cot.
Miss Martyn said: “The Crown says it wasn’t an accidental fall (in the cot). It was caused by the defendant losing it and taking it out on Ihaka, and perhaps regretting it and sitting up for a few hours to make sure he wasn’t concussed.”
Taylor, 23, denies charges of assaulting the child on July 2, 2015, and murdering him on July 3. The Crown will call evidence from 36 witnesses during the trial which will take about two weeks.
Miss Martyn said Ihaka lived with his mother and her partner Taylor at a home in Bryndwr.
On the night of Friday July 3, Taylor woke his partner to say that there was something wrong with Ihaka. He was found lying on his back in his cot, unresponsive and struggling to breathe, and his lips were blue.
Taylor and the mother called an ambulance and administered CPR while the ambulance arrived. Ihaka was rushed to hospital but was declared dead about an hour after the first call.
Miss Martyn said a post mortem examination showed 59 injuries to Ihaka including bruising to his forehead, eye, ear, scalp, chin, shoulder, both upper arms, fracture of the shoulder blades, fractured forearm and jaw, and head injuries that caused a subdural haematoma and brain swelling.
She said the Crown rejected Taylor’s claim that the injuries would have been caused by Ihaka falling while in the cot, and that he had heard the bangs when this must have happened on two successive nights. The Crown also said the mother did not inflict the injuries.
“The Crown case is that the injuries weren’t accidental, that he did not fall within the cot. This was no accident.”
The Crown case was that the injuries must have been inflicted on the Friday evening when the mother was asleep, and when Taylor was the only adult awake with the child.
Defence counsel Phil Shamy said in his opening statement that there had been two people in the house that night. Mikala Stokes was the only person with him for about three-and-a-half hours. She was a pregnant young woman with a child who was suffering from an ear infection.
Just because a man had concussion did not make him a murderer, he said.
“So the question is, who killed Ihaka Stokes? The injury that killed him wasn’t accidental. Was it Miss Stokes or was it Mr Taylor?” Mr Shamy asked.
The trial resumes on Tuesday morning, after adjourning to hear legal argument in closed court on Monday afternoon.