Ihaka Stokes trial 'isn't about science but a young man' - defence lawyer for man accused of murdering baby

The Crown says the Christchurch man accused of murdering baby Ihaka Stokes has lied when giving evidence, the night Ihaka died and when on the stand, not to cover for Mikala Stokes but to protect himself.

Troy Taylor, 23, is accused of murdering his stepson Ihaka, and assaulting the 15-month-old on or about July 2 last year at the Bryndwr house where he lived with Ihaka's mother.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said putting the blame on Ms Stokes is a "desperate attempt" for Taylor to get himself out of trouble.

The Crown alleges Taylor's history of concussions and headaches "helps to explain" why a "seemingly-loving, father figure" could fatally injure Ihaka.

"He snapped and inflicted those injuries on Ihaka, while Mikala was asleep in bed. When he realised Ihaka was in a very bad way, he alerted Mikala," Prosecutor Zarifeh said.

He said Taylor's recount of the events leading up to when Ihaka died was implausible, fabricated and inconsistent with medical reports of Ihaka's blunt force injuries.

Saying, 'I know what I saw that night,' doesn't explain the "complete implausibility" of Taylor's claims, the Crown claimed.

"The medical evidence not only cuts through his claims, it also shows she couldn't have done it," Prosecutor Zarifeh said.

Mikala Stokes was alone with Ihaka for several hours on the day he died in July 2015.

The Crown said a medical report showed there was a "very rapid deterioration to death" and the "pathology was not compatible with the fact the child had been in a critical state for more than four and a half hours."

"'Science can be wrong' is not an answer to the implausibility of his claims," Prosecutor Zarifeh said.

He said the factor of timing clearly shows Mikala Stokes could not have inflicted the fatal injuries.

"The only conclusion you can reach is Troy Taylor must have inflicted those injuries on Ihaka Stokes on the Friday night and it was a reckless killing…" he said, that was carried out "with murderous intent."

He said the law categorises that as murder.

Defence warns jury if they're not sure, they must give not guilty verdict

Defence lawyer Phil Shamy said police investigating Ihaka's death had decided Taylor was responsible before any pathologist or paediatric radiologist had given evidence and while there was no forensic evidence or any other evidence collected.

"The whole interview is, 'Look you didn't do it, tell us Troy did.'  It's called investigative bias," he said of Ms Stoke's questioning by police.

He said police pushed Taylor to confess, but when asking Ms Stokes whether she killed Ihaka, said 'We need something more affirmative,' after she said she could have been sleepwalking and didn't know.

The Crown earlier said Ms Stokes said later, 'No…' and that she would never cause any injuries to her children to police.

Ihaka Stokes
Ihaka Stokes. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Stokes was heavily pregnant when Ihaka died.

Mr Shamy questioned why clothing from Ms Stokes was not sent for scientific testing, as well as why other potential evidence like clumps of white hair found in Ihaka's cot wasn't examined.

"What might have been revealed by looking at her clothing?"

Mr Shamy urged the jury to take great care when examining the case, saying the case isn't about science but a young man.

He said if jury members don't know who to believe at this point in the trial, then the verdict is 'not guilty'.

"You've got to be sure in a case like this, you can't convict Taylor by default… don't convict him by default."

Justice Cameron Mander will summarise the trial tomorrow morning, before the jury is retired to consider their verdicts.

Troy Taylor's lawyer and the Crown summarised their cases before the jury retires tomorrow. Source: 1 NEWS

Preparations are underway as more refugees set to make New Zealand home

Preparations are underway to accommodate more refugees in New Zealand after the Government announced it'll increase the quota by 500 people.

This means there will be changes for how and where we welcome refugees. Which starts with six weeks at the Mangere Refugee Centre in Auckland.

Mohamad Hasan’s son was born in an Indonesian refugee camp and Hasan has been stateless since fleeing Somalia in 1990.

"It's like moving from the cage to the world, I feel like that."

Qemajl Murati from the Refugee Resettlement Centre says the centre operates like a small village.

But now it is a growing village after the Government confirmed it is raising the refugee quota to 1500.

"I almost cried because there are so many people who are waiting," Mr Hasan said.

Mr Murati said, "We will have to look at the delivery model at the moment we have six intakes we may need to change to seven intakes."

The centre currently has 196 beds across six blocks, but it’s expanding to meet the demand. New building projects will take up to 250-260 beds.

New Zealand takes on refugees based on referrals from the UN.

In the last decade we've taken on more refugees originally from Myanmar and Bhutan than anywhere else - 1070 from Bhutan and 2434 from Myanmar.

More recently New Zealand have taken refugees from conflict zones like Syria and Afghanistan.  944 from Syria and 935 from Lebanon.

New Zealand ranks 95th in the world for its intake with Australia taking more than 18,000.

Meg de Ronde from Amnesty International New Zealand says, "I do think we need to step up as far as the numbers of people that we bring in, this has been an increase that has been 30 years in the making.”

Refugees are resettled in five regions, but six more are being opened up.

It comes after the Government announced it will increase the quota by 500. Source: 1 NEWS


Opinion: Will getting ahead in New Zealand increasingly become a lottery?

After recent struggles to get into the KiwiBuild ballot, it got me thinking what other things we used to take for granted in New Zealand might one day be left up to a lottery system?

Source: 1 NEWS

As the cost of living continues to race away from wages, it becomes increasingly hard to get on the property market, especially in the hyper-inflated Auckland region where I work and live.

In turn, this has led to the Government's KiwiBuild initiative, a noble one indeed, but something that would have been unimaginable back in my parents' day.

Outdated lending restrictions used by the major banks are not helping matters.

Currently, you can't get finance for a brand new affordable apartment with all the mod-cons if it's under 40 square metres, as most are these days.

However, they are more than happy to lend on a old tired more expensive apartment that is falling apart, which just hits the 40 square metre mark, and often look smaller than new builds due to poor layout.

The Government's "watered down" foreign buyer ban still lets overseas investors snap up these brand new apartments, meaning the status quo remains and there is no relief for the many Kiwis desperate to get into the market on any level.

National MP Judith Collins' comments this week criticising KiwiBuild suggest she is out of touch on the issue and gives little hope of any changes coming from that side of the House.

"Kiwi families deserve a home not a measly studio apartment only big enough for a single person and their cat," Ms Collins said.

What does she have against single people and cats? Are they so sub-human they don't deserve a place to live as well?

So, here we are with the lottery system, put your name in the hat and hope like hell you get selected to be hoisted onto the property ladder.

In the future, will other things once thought of as being part and parcel of living in New Zealand also become part of a lottery system?

It may sound far-fetched, but not many years ago so would a housing lottery too.

* Alan Kenyon is a 1 News Now Producer and would-be apartment owner. He does not own a cat.


Students to appear before Canterbury school's board after boy punched in head during violent incident

A video has emerged on social media of two teenage boys allegedly assaulting a fellow student in Canterbury.

Darfield High School principal James Morris says the incident, which he described as an assault, happened at the school on Tuesday and police were notified shortly after.

The video shows two boys punching the victim and standing over him before kicking him in the backside after being told to leave the scene.

It appears the boy was punched in the head twice by the same boy where he lay on the ground.

Mr Morris confirmed students involved in the incident will appear before the school board tomorrow with an outcome from the hearing likely on Monday.

He added the school has been in contact with the parents of the victim and are supporting him.

1 NEWS have contacted police for comment.

Darfield High School’s principal says police were notified shortly after the incident happened. Source: Supplied

'Government coming apart at the seams' says Simon Bridges as second minister gone

National Party Leader Simon bridges says today's dumping of Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri shows more weak leadership by the Prime Minister, leading to a weak Government which is "coming apart at the seams".

Less than a year in Government, two ministers are now gone after Jacinda Ardern today axed Ms Whaitiri following a Ministerial Services report on an incident last month in which she was alleged to have assaulted a staff member during an event in Gisborne.

It comes after the MP was accused of assaulting a staff member in Gisborne. Source: 1 NEWS

Clare Curran quit her remaining ministerial roles about two weeks ago after being rattled in Parliament over questions about her use of personal email for Government business, and having already been stripped of two portfolios over undeclared meetings.

Mr Bridges says today's sacking of Ms Whaitiri is more weak leadership leading to a weak government. 

"I mean we've not had a ongoing series of chaos and sagas, whether it's been Curran, now Whaitiri, and of course managing or not managing as the case may be Winston Peters," the National Party leader said. 

"The Prime Minister has to take responsibility for that weak leadership. If we look at Meka Whaitiri, what's happened here is very clear. Nothing has changed. She's known the facts about an alleged incident now for week, but just like with Curran she has dithered and mucked around and she should have dealt with this much more early," he said.

Ms Whaitiri will stay on as the MP for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti and Mr Bridges says that's a question for the Prime Minister.

"I think the reality is she still has leadership roles here. She's still chairing a caucus committee, and that's not good enough," he said.

"Still there's basic questions that I'm sure the Prime Minister knows but she won't answer, like whether there's been other incidents, what has happened here. She should have got to the bottom of this and dealt with this a long time ago."

Mr Bridges said Ms Ardern has not been strong enough on the matter.

"This has been weak leadership and weak government. It's why we're seeing the Government coming apart at the seams, you know around two ministers in a couple of weeks, around a coalition where they can't get agreement on basic things, this is yet more evidence of something that could have been dealt with decisively and strongly but has been weak," Mr Bridges said.

The National Party leader says the axing of Meka Whaitiri is more slow, weak leadership leading to weak government. Source: 1 NEWS