Murder accused 'doesn't recall' kicking toddler

James Joseph Ruhe LawrenceBefore being charged with the murder of toddler JJ, Joel Loffley told police any inconsistencies in his statements were due to shock and being under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

A videotaped police interview with Loffley was played to a High Court jury in Auckland today.

He is charged with murdering two-year-old James Joseph Ruhe Lawrence, nicknamed JJ, who died last November after suffering horrific injuries at his Orakei home.

During the two-hour police interview, Loffley admitted to having hit children and women. He also talked about anger management problems and issues with drugs and alcohol.

Detective Alexander Headifen, the arresting officer, conducted the interview.

Loffley, who had moved in with JJ's mother Josephine Lawrence in June 2011, admitted he had kicked two children. He laughed about the incidents during the interview.

"Kick up the bum's aye, no good. It's better than I used to get," Loffley said.

"I used to get smashed over with lighters, with ash trays."

When asked about JJ, Loffley momentarily admitted he had kicked the two-year-old before retracting what he said.

"So busy stoned every day. I can't remember.

"I don't recall kicking him up the arse."

Loffley's brother Gabriel and his partner Jessica Peat were also a living at the Auckland state house.

But the interview was carried out after police executed a search warrant at his then residence in Mangere.

Questions around Loffley's relationship with JJ and his mother were put to him by police.

Details around Loffley's abusive past were also called in during the interview.

He admitted to having slapped Ms Lawrence and also strangling and hitting another woman with a vacuum pipe.

Loffley told Detective Headifen he had been enrolled in an anger management programme to help with his issues.

He also said he smoked cannabis to help him sleep at night and was stoned the night before JJ died.

Inconsistencies between what Loffley said, his previous statements and accounts from others were also highlighted during the interview.

Loffley said he found out Ms Lawrence was pregnant a week before JJ died.

Earlier Loffley told police he had taken on more responsibilities with JJ after learning she was pregnant.

But in the taped interview, the 29-year-old denied taking on more responsibilities or changing JJ's nappies - something which Ms Peat, Loffley's brother's partner, had said in her own statement to police.

"I'm spending time with him while she's [Ms Lawrence] in the room," Loffley said in response to questioning about his interaction with JJ.

"I'm trying to show him how to play PSP [Playstation] and stuff like that."

Loffley also pointed out he had been drinking before speaking to police previously, and had been drinking heavily the night before the taped interview was conducted.

"You know that when I took that statement I had some alcohol and a spot aye," he said in reference to a previous statement.

"I'm not saying that anything I've said is wrong. If it is contradictory then you know it's only because I was in shock."

Detective Headifen asked Loffley what he did with baby JJ on the day he died.

Loffley said he had cuddles with the two-year-old and played with him in bed.

"I wasn't rough with JJ," he told police. "I was getting hoha at the mum cos she was yelling at me to get up.

"And I'm like 'I don't wanna get up'."

The trial resumes on Monday.

 

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