Man accused of killing child found dead

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5 year old Leon Michael leFleming Jayet-Cole died from head injuires in Christchurch hospital. Photo / Supplied

By Kurt Bayer

Child, Youth and Family says it worked with the family of a 5-year-old child who died after suffering a serious head injury but investigations "did not establish evidence of physical abuse".

A man accused of murdering a 5-year-old autistic boy has been found dead.

James Stedman Roberts was due to stand trial for the murder of his step-son Leon Jayet-Cole later this year.

But this morning he was found dead at a Christchurch property where he was on electronically-monitored bail.

Police refused to confirm the identity of the man found dead at the Riccarton address, saying it was not suspicious. It has been referred to the coroner, a police spokeswoman said.

Child, Youth and Family southern regional director Theresa Perham said it worked with police in their investigation into the circumstances surrounding Leon's death.

It included working with the family to ensure the safety and wellbeing of his siblings.

Today, CYF said its involvement with the Roberts family "mostly concerned issues arising from the stress in the household of caring for the boys with high needs, the health challenges they presented".

It says appropriate agencies were engaged with Jayet and the family to help support them.

"While there were other concerns raised, the agencies involved in the investigations did not establish evidence of physical abuse," Ms Perham said.

"All concerns received about the family were responded to."

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She added: "This matter is currently before the coroner which provides an opportunity for our involvement to be explored further."

Emma Jayet and James Stedman Roberts. Photo / Supplied
Emma Jayet and James Stedman Roberts. Photo / Supplied

Leon was rushed to hospital after suffering a serious head injury at his Papanui home on May 27 last year.

He died in hospital the following day.

Roberts was charged with his murder.

The trial was set down to begin on October 31.

Leon's mother Emma Jayet, 38, had initially stood by Roberts.

But NZME understands that she told Roberts last week that their marriage was over after seeing the boy's final autopsy report, which outlined his extensive injuries. She had also sought the views of an independent pathologist.

Jayet was initially charged with failing in her legal duty as a carer to get Leon medical treatment on the day that he died. But that charge was later withdrawn by police.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust criticised Justice Rachel Dunningham's decision to release Roberts on electronically-monitored bail with a 24-hour curfew in December.

SST spokesman Scott Guthrie described the decision as "callous" and "totally out of touch with reality".

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