The mother of an Auckland toddler says she argued with the man accused of murdering him the morning the boy died.
Joel Loffley is accused of killing two-year-old James Lawrence, known as JJ, at his home in the suburb of Orakei on 14 November last year.
The Crown says that the boy suffered blunt force trauma to his stomach, severely damaging his internal organs. Mr Loffley, 29, was the partner of the boy's mother and denies the charge.
Josephine Lawrence told the Auckland High Court that the accused beat her regularly during their five-month relationship.
Ms Lawrence said the worst time was when he put his hands around her neck and choked her for so long that she almost passed out and thought she was going to die.
She said after Mr Loffley attacked her, she had purple marks round her neck, her eyes were bloodshot and her face covered in a purple rash.
In the past six months, the toddler had twice broken his arm and while Ms Lawrence could not be sure, she told the court on Thursday that she had a feeling Joel Loffley was responsible.
On the morning of JJ's death, the couple argued over who would look after the child.
Ms Lawrence needed to go to the bank and wanted to take her son with her, but said Mr Loffley insisted that JJ stay with him so they could bond.
The mother said she was too scared to just take him because she thought Mr Loffley would give her a hiding so she left the child with him.
JJ Lawrence died later that morning after a massive blunt trauma severed his liver and pancreas in two.
Accused 'got toddler stoned'
Josephine Lawrence told the court that the accused used the boy's asthma inhaler as a pipe to get the boy stoned on cannabis.
Ms Lawrence said the Mr Loffley always did it when she was not around and that when she told the accused not to, he would tell her it was fine because he used to get his other sons stoned.
She said she could tell when JJ had had cannabis because his eyes were red and he was sleepy.