Man guilty of murdering toddler

Joel Loffley and victim JJ Lawrence are shown in this combination photograph. Photos NZ HeraldThe 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 and pancreas.

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 three weeks.

Speaking outside court, JJ's uncle Richard Lawrence said the family were gathering for a debrief and then to "do a bit of grieving''.

"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 said.

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.


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