Man cleared of wrongdoing in workplace incident

Gisborne Courthouse. File picture by Rebecca Grunwell

A MAN who pressed his body up against a woman’s while she was cleaning the men’s toilets at their workplace, then asked her if she wanted a “jam”, has been cleared by a jury of any wrongdoing in just 22 minutes.

Paia Te Rangi Smallholme Pardoe, 24, was found not guilty of indecent assault after a short trial in Gisborne District Court.

Neither was he found guilty of assault, a verdict open to jurors after finding him not guilty of the more serious charge.

The complainant was the only witness at the trial.

She told the court that apart from working at the same organisation, Pardoe was a stranger. One evening, while working, he came up behind her at washbasin and pressed his body and face against hers so closely that she could feel his “private parts” and his breath.

He put his arms around her and his hands over hers on a washbasin.

She pushed him off. He asked her if she wanted a “jam” and followed her around the basins.

“All you have to do is tell me to stop”, he said.

He sat back down on the seat when she told him to stop, but continued to watch her. It made her feel uneasy and she ran from the room.

She told a work colleague what had happened.

Directing the jury as to how it could consider the case, Judge Warren Cathcart said for the charge to be proved, jurors needed to answer yes to each of five questions: whether the act occurred, that the woman did not consent, that Pardoe did not honestly believe she consented, whether a right-minded person would view what he did as indecent, and whether Pardoe intended or appreciated those aspects and the surrounding circumstances that made it indecent.

Defence counsel Doug Rishworth and prosecutor Clayton Walker had both addressed those questions in their closing addresses.

Mr Walker said there could be no dispute as to what occurred. While Pardoe initially denied the physical contact when questioned by police, he had not challenged it at trial.

Unexpected

Jurors could be sure the woman had not consented and that Pardoe did not believe she had.

What he did to her was totally unexpected and uninvited.

What the complainant described and the circumstances in which it occurred could not be considered by any right-minded person as anything other than indecent assault, Mr Walker said.

Pardoe knew what he did was indecent. When asked about the allegation in a police DVD interview, he said he “would not do that”.

Pardoe’s actions were deliberate. He was trying it on to see if he could “get lucky”.

Given that, there simply was no defence, Mr Walker said.

Mr Rishworth refuted Mr Walker’s closing address, saying it was all submission, not evidence.

“The overriding consideration of trials like this is fairness,” Mr Rishworth said.

This was a serious charge and his client’s future depended on the jury’s verdict.

To say there was no defence was inappropriate and did not respect the criminal justice process or the jury’s job of deliberating over such a serious case.

The complainant’s evidence was not unchallenged. He tested her on it, Mr Rishworth said.

Under cross-examination she conceded points, including that while the time Pardoe had pressed up against her might have seemed longer, it was actually only for about five seconds.

She confirmed she was able to push him away, that he had not tried to resist or persist.

When she asked him to stop, he did.

There was no intentional touching of any of her intimate parts, no persistence and, importantly, after she said no, there was no further touching.

He had not tried to prevent her from leaving.

This case was not as cut and dried or as simple as the Crown suggested. It was not about what the complainant felt as much as what the defendant intended, that was the issue.

He did not intend his actions to be deemed indecent. He was simply making a clumsy pass at the woman, a pass that was quickly rebuffed and immediately stopped.

She might well have felt uneasy at the way she thought he looked at her, but it was not a crime to look weird or give someone funny glances, Mr Rishworth said.

If you look clinically at all the evidence you will find this is not a case of indecent assault, Mr Rishworth said.

A MAN who pressed his body up against a woman’s while she was cleaning the men’s toilets at their workplace, then asked her if she wanted a “jam”, has been cleared by a jury of any wrongdoing in just 22 minutes.

Paia Te Rangi Smallholme Pardoe, 24, was found not guilty of indecent assault after a short trial in Gisborne District Court.

Neither was he found guilty of assault, a verdict open to jurors after finding him not guilty of the more serious charge.

The complainant was the only witness at the trial.

She told the court that apart from working at the same organisation, Pardoe was a stranger. One evening, while working, he came up behind her at washbasin and pressed his body and face against hers so closely that she could feel his “private parts” and his breath.

He put his arms around her and his hands over hers on a washbasin.

She pushed him off. He asked her if she wanted a “jam” and followed her around the basins.

“All you have to do is tell me to stop”, he said.

He sat back down on the seat when she told him to stop, but continued to watch her. It made her feel uneasy and she ran from the room.

She told a work colleague what had happened.

Directing the jury as to how it could consider the case, Judge Warren Cathcart said for the charge to be proved, jurors needed to answer yes to each of five questions: whether the act occurred, that the woman did not consent, that Pardoe did not honestly believe she consented, whether a right-minded person would view what he did as indecent, and whether Pardoe intended or appreciated those aspects and the surrounding circumstances that made it indecent.

Defence counsel Doug Rishworth and prosecutor Clayton Walker had both addressed those questions in their closing addresses.

Mr Walker said there could be no dispute as to what occurred. While Pardoe initially denied the physical contact when questioned by police, he had not challenged it at trial.

Unexpected

Jurors could be sure the woman had not consented and that Pardoe did not believe she had.

What he did to her was totally unexpected and uninvited.

What the complainant described and the circumstances in which it occurred could not be considered by any right-minded person as anything other than indecent assault, Mr Walker said.

Pardoe knew what he did was indecent. When asked about the allegation in a police DVD interview, he said he “would not do that”.

Pardoe’s actions were deliberate. He was trying it on to see if he could “get lucky”.

Given that, there simply was no defence, Mr Walker said.

Mr Rishworth refuted Mr Walker’s closing address, saying it was all submission, not evidence.

“The overriding consideration of trials like this is fairness,” Mr Rishworth said.

This was a serious charge and his client’s future depended on the jury’s verdict.

To say there was no defence was inappropriate and did not respect the criminal justice process or the jury’s job of deliberating over such a serious case.

The complainant’s evidence was not unchallenged. He tested her on it, Mr Rishworth said.

Under cross-examination she conceded points, including that while the time Pardoe had pressed up against her might have seemed longer, it was actually only for about five seconds.

She confirmed she was able to push him away, that he had not tried to resist or persist.

When she asked him to stop, he did.

There was no intentional touching of any of her intimate parts, no persistence and, importantly, after she said no, there was no further touching.

He had not tried to prevent her from leaving.

This case was not as cut and dried or as simple as the Crown suggested. It was not about what the complainant felt as much as what the defendant intended, that was the issue.

He did not intend his actions to be deemed indecent. He was simply making a clumsy pass at the woman, a pass that was quickly rebuffed and immediately stopped.

She might well have felt uneasy at the way she thought he looked at her, but it was not a crime to look weird or give someone funny glances, Mr Rishworth said.

If you look clinically at all the evidence you will find this is not a case of indecent assault, Mr Rishworth said.

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