Man who murdered Christchurch toddler Ihaka Stokes jailed for minimum of 17 years

The stepfather of a Christchurch toddler who inflicted 59 injuries on a 14-month-old toddler has been sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for his murder.

Troy Kevin Taylor, 24, denied killing Ihaka Stokes at his two-week trial at the High Court in Christchurch, claiming it was the toddler's mother Mikala Stokes who inflicted the injuries in July 2015, while he was out getting a tattoo.

Troy Kevin Taylor was found guilty of the murder in March and today hung his head in the dock. Source: 1 NEWS

However, the High Court jury found him guilty of "losing it" and murdering the child.

Justice Cameron Mander sentenced him to life with a minimum period of 17 years for the murder of Ihaka and two years for assaulting the child on the night before he died, to be served concurrently.

"The violent homicide of babies and young children by those who take responsibility for their care has been for many years now a growing and grave concern to the community, so denunciation and deterrence is an important aspect of this sentencing," the Judge said.  

Source: 1 NEWS

Ihaka's mother, grandmother and grandfather all gave harrowing victim impact statements at today's sentencing.

Mother Mikala Stokes told the court, through tears: "I trusted you Troy, you used to be to be our rock.. and you ended up destroying us."

Taylor hung his head as he sat in the dock.

Mikala Stokes walked briskly from the Christchurch High Court, making no comment after Troy Taylor was found guilty. Source: 1 NEWS

Ms Stokes continued, "in two weeks I lost my two best friends...Troy you will never be able to replace my boo boo."

"I will never hear and hold my Ihaka again.. I'm still waiting for him to come home to me."

HE LOVED RAINBOWS

Grandfather Paul Stokes talked of cuddling Ihaka's body in the hospital the night that he died.

"Ihaka never woke, he loved rainbows and after his death I completed a stone carving that sits at the front of our house, a rainbow that says "'if tears were stairs I'd build a staircase to heaven and bring you home again'."

He said he tried to be strong for his family, but no matter what he did, Ihaka wouldn't be coming back. 

Troy Kevin Taylor was sentence to life with minimum period of 17 years for the murder of Ihaka Stokes. Source: 1 NEWS

Mr Stokes, however, also wished Taylor a recovery from the concussions that caused him sleep deprivation and ultimately led him to snap on the night he fatally wounded the little boy.

"I hope Troy can get the medical help for his migraines, and my thoughts are with him."

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh described the killing as a gross breach of trust, where 59 injuries were inflicted on a vulnerable child.

"It was never an intentional killing, it was a momentary loss of temper by Mr Taylor and that is often the case in these type of killings."
 

Paul Stokes told the High Court in Christchurch how he created a stone carving with a rainbow in remembrance of Ihaka Stokes. Source: 1 NEWS



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Search for missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath to be focused on Canterbury landfill

As the search for missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath enters its third week, police say they will now focus on a landfill in Canterbury. 

Mr McGrath was reported missing on May 23 and police say they have grave concerns for his wellbeing.

Police say they have information that has led them to the Canterbury rubbish dump. Source: 1 NEWS

Police said today next week's search effort will be focused on the Kate Valley landfill in Waipara. 

Police have searched both land and water for Mr McGrath, including forensic examinations of a number of properties and vehicles of interest in the Halswell area and on Checketts Avenue. 

The police national dive squad also joined the search yesterday. 

Over 100 people have been involved across various phases of the search. 

On Tuesday, police released CCTV images of Mr McGrath taken at Halswell New World on Friday May 19 at 12.38pm. 

Police say the clothes he's wearing in the images are similar to what Mr McGrath may have been last observed in before he was reported missing. 

Police also released photos of his blue bike and white bike helmet in the hope that someone has seen him on it. 

Bicycle helmet of missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath.
Bicycle helmet of missing Christchurch man Michael McGrath. Source: NZ Police

They also appealed to the public to come forward if they had any sightings of Mr McGrath or his car, a blue 1994 Subaru Legacy station wagon, over the dates of May 20, 21, and 22.

Police say the focus of the investigation remains on finding Mr McGrath or any evidence relating to his whereabouts.

Anyone who may have CCTV footage or information in relation to Mr McGrath's disappearance is asked to call Christchurch Central Police Station.