family of murdered toddler JJ say they can finally start the
healing process after today's guilty verdict.
On the one-year anniversary of JJ's death, a jury today found
Joel Loffley guilty of murdering two-year-old James Joseph
Ruhe Lawrence, who died from horrific injuries to his liver
Gasps and cries were heard in the courtroom in the High Court
at Auckland as the jury delivered its unanimous verdict after
seven and a half hours of deliberations. The trial had lasted
Speaking outside court, JJ's uncle Richard Lawrence said the
family were gathering for a debrief and then to "do a bit of
"We're trying to keep it as low-profile as we can until we
get home to where JJ is, and start healing, I suppose,'' he
The family planned to hold a memorial gathering for the
toddler on Monday.
Loffley's lawyer Roger Chambers said his client was "bitterly
disappointed'' at the verdict.
"He knew it would be a close-run thing,'' he said.
Loffley maintained his innocence, said Mr Chambers.
The officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior
Sergeant Kevin Hooper, said police were pleased Loffley has
been held accountable for the toddler's death.
Loffley, 29, was charged with killing JJ, who died on
November 14 last year in an Orakei house where he lived with
his mother Josephine Lawrence and Loffley.
Loffley is due to be sentenced in February.