Troy Kevin Taylor
The de-facto stepfather of Christchurch infant Ihaka Stokes has today been jailed for life with a minimum non-parole period of 17 years for bashing the boy to death in his cot in what has been described as a "momentary loss of temper".
Troy Kevin Taylor, 24, during a two-week trial at the High Court in Christchurch this year, denied murdering the 14-month-old boy .
He claimed that his then-partner and Ihaka's mother Mikala Stokes inflicted the boy's 59 fatal injuries on July 3, 2015, while he was getting a tattoo.
But after four hours of deliberations, a jury of six women and six men unanimously found Taylor guilty of murder.
They also found him guilty of assaulting the child the day before the murder.
The Crown had alleged that Taylor was suffering from sleep deprivation, headaches and irritability caused by multiple concussions around the time Ihaka was developing an ear infection, when he "snapped".
The public gallery was packed for Taylor's sentencing today.
In an emotional victim impact statement, Mikala Stokes said she lost her two best friends over that fortnight nearly two years ago and has been left "broken".
In the hospital, Stokes never got the chance to say her final goodbyes to her son.
She felt he was being "treated like a science experiment".
Being pregnant got her through, she said today, but now has high anxiety and struggles to trust anyone.
She said to Ihaka she was "sorry".
Ihaka's grandfather, Mikala's father Paul Stokes, said Taylor had been a "doting father figure and mate" to Ihaka.
He said he found the legal and medical process frustrating and overwhelming. It's taken a toll on his family, put a strain on his marriage, and he now struggles to get out of bed every day.
Ihaka loved rainbows, and after his death Stokes carved him a rainbow, which sits at the entrance to the family home, and says, "If tears were stairs, I would build a staircase to heaven and bring you home".
Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh accepted Taylor experienced a "momentary loss of temper".
"That, unfortunately, is the case in a lot of these kinds of killings," he said.
Defence counsel Phil Shamy said Taylor maintained his innocence.
But he said the assault on Ihaka amounted to a "momentary loss of control", and that it was offending "completely out of character".
The court earlier heard how Taylor told police minutes after the boy's death at the couple's Truman Rd home how he heard two "bangs" in the night and thought he'd fallen in his cot.
Taylor said he lied to police about the fall to protect the heavily pregnant Stokes.
He testified that Ihaka was floppy and breathing raspily when he got into the child's cot earlier in the evening.
Worried that Stokes had done something, he baulked at getting medical help because he didn't want to get her into trouble.
He claimed he would've "gone to prison" for her if she'd admitted hurting Ihaka in a four-hour window when he was out of the house.
But Zarifeh said in his closing address that the medical evidence heard in the trial - which Taylor dismissed, saying "science gets lots of things wrong" - completely undid his story.
UK neuropathologist Professor Colin Smith believed it was a "maximum of minutes" from Ihaka being injured to him becoming unconscious.
Asked to comment on defence suggestions that Stokes inflicted the injuries in the afternoon - at least three hours before Taylor says he found him unresponsive in his cot - Smith replied: "That is not an explanation for the pathology that is present in this case."
Zarifeh said the medical evidence was not consistent with Taylor's account, and also independently showed that Stokes couldn't have inflicted the injuries on the Friday afternoon.
Taylor lied to police, Zarifeh said, not to protect Stokes, "but to protect himself".
Justice Cameron Mander said children had a right to be safe in their own homes.
It was understandable that the jury did not accept Taylor's version of events, the judge said.
"The evidence was simply irreconcilable with your denial," Justice Mander said.
It was likely, the judge said, that Taylor "snapped" after becoming frustrated at being unable to settle Ihaka and the violence inflicted was "the result of your sudden rage".
Although the judge accepted Taylor's sorrow at the boy's death as genuine, his attempts to cover up his crimes demonstrated a "certain callousness" and disregard for Ihaka's family.
It also showed an inability for Taylor to "face up to the enormity of your actions".
Ihaka died in hospital from non-accidental, violent injuries, including broken bones and severe brain damage.
Date of Birth
1993 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Three Strikes Status
Ihaka Stokes (15 months)
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Troy Taylor jailed for life with minimum non-parole of 17 years for killing Christchurch infant Ihaka Stokes
Troy Kevin Taylor Sentencing Notes
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