Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Police silent on how tot fatally hurt

Head injuries that killed 2-year-old Stevve Lawson unexplained, says detective

Stevve Lawson - pictured with her mother, Ajhalia Trotter - died in the Starship hospital on May 2.
Stevve Lawson - pictured with her mother, Ajhalia Trotter - died in the Starship hospital on May 2.

Police will not be drawn on how Wellsford toddler Stevve Lawson received fatal head injuries, or whose custody she was in when she was hurt.

Stevve, who celebrated her first birthday in April, was airlifted to the Starship hospital by the Auckland Westpac rescue helicopter on April 29. She died on May 2 and police launched a homicide inquiry.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hooper said Stevve died of "unexplained head injuries". However, he could not elaborate further on how or where the little girl suffered the injuries.

He said she had been living with her mother, Ajhalia Trotter, and partner Todd King at a Wellsford address. He confirmed that when she was taken to hospital she was in Ms Trotter's care.

However, he would not say who was looking after Stevve when she was fatally injured.

It is understood Ms Trotter shared custody of Stevve with the toddler's father, Steve Lawson.

Ms Trotter's lawyer, Eb Leary, told the Herald on Sunday that Stevve had been in Mr Lawson's care before she was admitted to hospital.

He said Ms Trotter had nothing to do with Stevve's injuries. But last night, he could not comment further on the specifics of the investigation, or elaborate on the custody arrangement in the lead-up to the death.

He said Ms Trotter, with others in her family, had been through a "trauma" and they were not up to speaking publicly.

It is understood police were alerted to Stevve's injuries before she died. Their investigation was then upgraded to a homicide on May 2.

A homicide investigation begins when a death is unnatural or unexplained. It does not necessarily mean the death was violent or suspicious.

Stevve was farewelled at a "celebration of life" service at the home of Ms Trotter's parents, Perry and Sheree, on May 7. Mr Trotter posted details of the service on Facebook, inviting family and friends to celebrate Stevve's "short but joy-filled life".

His son Zahn Trotter posted that Stevve was the "new centre of attention in heaven".

Ms Trotter's younger sister, Avya, has also posted tributes on her social media pages. On June 2, a month after Stevve died, she published a photograph of herself with her niece.

"Fave person in the world, now fave person in heaven," she wrote.

Avya Trotter is a singer and songwriter in the Wellsford area. She revealed on her YouTube page that she had been writing a song for Stevve when the toddler died.

"I started writing this song about her a couple of months ago. I could hear her laughing in the next room as I was writing it," she said.

"Never did I imagine this would happen. The day after Stevie passed away I completed this song. Stevie was our sunshine. She was just so happy all the time."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 22 Dec 2014 21:30:13 Processing Time: 564ms