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.
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.
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.
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.
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."