22 Apr 2013

Father runs from court as accused denies killing girl

9:45 pm on 22 April 2013

The father of Christchurch girl Jade Bayliss ran from the court on Monday as the man accused of murdering her repeatedly denied the accusation.

Jeremy McLaughlin is accused of burgling the family home, strangling the 13-year-old with a jug cord, before burning the house down in November 2011.

The defence began its case in the Christchurch High Court on Monday where Mr McLaughlin repeatedly said under oath that he did not kill the girl.

The 35-year-old has, however, admitted charges of burglary and arson.

Crown prosecutor Kathy Bell put it to Mr McLaughlin that Jade Bayliss had disturbed him when he had broken into the house in Barrington Street in Christchurch.

Ms Bell said that after killing the girl, the accused poured petrol in every room in the house except her bedroom, and she asked if that was because he couldn't bring himself to burn her body.

Mr McLaughlin denied several times that was the case.

During the exchange, the girl's father, Gary Bayliss, ran from the court room.

Earlier, Jeremy McLaughlin said he had "a fairly good relationship" with Jade Bayliss when he was seeing her mother. He said after Tina Bayliss discovered that she was pregnant and decided to terminate the pregnancy, the relationship ended.

The court was told the accused burgled the Bayliss house to reclaim his belongings and to take electronics to pawn. He sold the goods and later returned where he poured petrol throughout the rooms and set fire to it.

Mr McLaughlin told the court that his friend, Jolon Sweeney, told him to burn the house down and he was supposed to help him.

"I walked in and I said to him: I've done the burglaries, where the heck were you? And he didn't really explain himself - he just turned around and said: 'Did you burn it'?

"And with that I said no, I hadn't burned it - I had just robbed it. And he said, 'Well, you should burn it because then will mean that Tina will be scared and she'll go back to the UK quicker'".

Mr McLaughlin told the court that both times he entered the house on the day Jade Bayliss died it was empty.

Meanwhile, Jolon Sweeney on Monday admitted charges of being an accessory after the fact to burglary and arson at a Christchurch property. He will be sentenced in early June.