6 Nov 2012

Brother says accused felt responsible for boy's death

5:00 pm on 6 November 2012

The brother of a man charged with murdering a toddler says the accused told him he felt he was to blame for the death.

Joel Loffley is on trial at the Auckland High Court accused of killing James Lawrence, known as JJ, at the couple's Orakei home on 14 November last year.

The Crown says the two-year-old suffered blunt force trauma to his stomach, severely damaging his internal organs including his liver and pancreas.

Mr Loffley, 29, denies the charge, saying the boy injured himself after falling off a bed.

Gabriel Loffley and his partner also lived at the Orakei house with his brother and JJ's mother Josephine Lawrence. They were both there on the morning of the boy's death.

However, Gabriel Loffley told the Auckland High Court on Tuesday that he did not know or could not remember many details about that day or about life in the house generally.

Mr Loffley said when Joel Loffley realised that JJ had died, the accused told him he felt he was to blame and that he wanted to commit suicide.

Gabriel Loffley also told the court his brother had borne the brunt of heavy discipline at home when they were growing up and had once been knocked unconscious by his father.

Boy's injuries not caused by fall - expert

A child abuse specialist told the court on Tuesday only a high-speed car accident or a kick or punch to the stomach could have caused the injuries that killed a toddler.

The head of Starship Hospital's child abuse team, Patrick Kelly, said he had never seen these kind of injuries in a child who had survived.

Dr Kelly said the internal injuries would have been so excruciating, the toddler would have lost a lot of blood, gone into shock and lost consciousness very quickly.

He said a fall from a bed could not cause that sort of injury.

Defence lawyer Roger Chambers suggested that JJ may have hit the wooden corner of the bed, but Dr Kelly said even the edge of the bed could not have caused that degree of damage.