Judge dismisses rape charge

A judge has dismissed the most serious charge against a 75 year-old man on trial by jury in Gisborne District Court this week for historical sex offending against children.

At the close of the Crown case yesterday afternoon, Judge Stephen Harrop discharged the accused of rape. It was laid in relation to one of the complainants who gave evidence on Monday but whose allegations in court did not reach the extent of her earlier police statement.

Judge Harrop told jurors not to be influenced either way by the man’s acquittal on the rape.

The remaining 11 charges, to which the man has pleaded not guilty, should be considered separately.

Those charges, which arise from alleged offending spanning 19 years between 1969 and 1988, are: two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, two indecencies with girls under 12, and six counts of indecencies with girls aged between 12 and 16.

They reflect allegations made by group of five women raised on the same remote East Coast farm in a whangai arrangement by a couple who parented more than 20 children over many years.

The women each deny the defence assertion they colluded to fabricate complaints in an effort to remove the accused from the family land.

His wife is a biological daughter of the couple who raised the complainants. In 1995 the Maori Land Court issued her an occupation order to live on 4000 square metres (an acre) of the family land, on which she and the accused built a house with expansive coastal views and easy beach access.

The last of the complainants to give evidence in the trial yesterday is the youngest of them and along with another of the complainants, is a trustee of the property, elected during an overhaul of trustees at the end of 2017.

She said contrary to the defence assertion, this case has “absolutely nothing to do with the land”. As a new trustee, she had personally assured the accused's wife more than a year ago, her right to occupy family land is for life and was not in jeopardy.

She said the offending against her occurred when she was 13. The other complainants are at least five years older and had already grown up and left home.

She alleged the man indecently touched her on two occasions at his house. The man sat beside her, covered them both with a blanket and brazenly assaulted her while chatting to her grandfather (who raised her) seated close by.

She had tried to avoid the second incident by sitting on a couch she hoped her grandfather might too, but instead the accused sat there. She felt cornered.


She said the incidents made her feel dirty. After each one, she took a bath.

Aspects of her account matched some of the other complainants allegations and like them, she did not tell her grandfather.

She did not think he would believe her and did not want to upset the relationship between him and his biological daughter (the accused's wife).
The complainant said she reported the offending to police in November 2017, having finally reached a point in her life where she felt able to do so.
The nature of her work and the experience of becoming a parent had made her determined to prevent any other child experiencing what she had.
She was close to the accused’s son who she grew up with and who had other grievances with the accused. He was the first person she told. It was while he was in prison during a phone conversation, made from the home of her older sister.

Her sister overheard the disclosure and then revealed she too had been abused by the man. That sister was the first to report to police and approached their other “siblings” who also came forward.
All the complainants have insisted in evidence they have never wanted to discuss in detail with each other — or anyone else — what they claim happened to them.

A detective said in evidence she also warned the women not to discuss their allegations.

In cross-examination counsel Michael Lynch, noted this complainant originally told police she was nine, but changed it to 13 when she asked police a year-and-a-half later to amend her formal statement.

Mr Lynch put it to her that was because after colluding with the other complainants the woman realised it was necessary. She denied this.

She reiterated her allegations had nothing to do with any land dispute.

(Proceeding)

A judge has dismissed the most serious charge against a 75 year-old man on trial by jury in Gisborne District Court this week for historical sex offending against children.

At the close of the Crown case yesterday afternoon, Judge Stephen Harrop discharged the accused of rape. It was laid in relation to one of the complainants who gave evidence on Monday but whose allegations in court did not reach the extent of her earlier police statement.

Judge Harrop told jurors not to be influenced either way by the man’s acquittal on the rape.

The remaining 11 charges, to which the man has pleaded not guilty, should be considered separately.

Those charges, which arise from alleged offending spanning 19 years between 1969 and 1988, are: two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, two indecencies with girls under 12, and six counts of indecencies with girls aged between 12 and 16.

They reflect allegations made by group of five women raised on the same remote East Coast farm in a whangai arrangement by a couple who parented more than 20 children over many years.

The women each deny the defence assertion they colluded to fabricate complaints in an effort to remove the accused from the family land.

His wife is a biological daughter of the couple who raised the complainants. In 1995 the Maori Land Court issued her an occupation order to live on 4000 square metres (an acre) of the family land, on which she and the accused built a house with expansive coastal views and easy beach access.

The last of the complainants to give evidence in the trial yesterday is the youngest of them and along with another of the complainants, is a trustee of the property, elected during an overhaul of trustees at the end of 2017.

She said contrary to the defence assertion, this case has “absolutely nothing to do with the land”. As a new trustee, she had personally assured the accused's wife more than a year ago, her right to occupy family land is for life and was not in jeopardy.

She said the offending against her occurred when she was 13. The other complainants are at least five years older and had already grown up and left home.

She alleged the man indecently touched her on two occasions at his house. The man sat beside her, covered them both with a blanket and brazenly assaulted her while chatting to her grandfather (who raised her) seated close by.

She had tried to avoid the second incident by sitting on a couch she hoped her grandfather might too, but instead the accused sat there. She felt cornered.


She said the incidents made her feel dirty. After each one, she took a bath.

Aspects of her account matched some of the other complainants allegations and like them, she did not tell her grandfather.

She did not think he would believe her and did not want to upset the relationship between him and his biological daughter (the accused's wife).
The complainant said she reported the offending to police in November 2017, having finally reached a point in her life where she felt able to do so.
The nature of her work and the experience of becoming a parent had made her determined to prevent any other child experiencing what she had.
She was close to the accused’s son who she grew up with and who had other grievances with the accused. He was the first person she told. It was while he was in prison during a phone conversation, made from the home of her older sister.

Her sister overheard the disclosure and then revealed she too had been abused by the man. That sister was the first to report to police and approached their other “siblings” who also came forward.
All the complainants have insisted in evidence they have never wanted to discuss in detail with each other — or anyone else — what they claim happened to them.

A detective said in evidence she also warned the women not to discuss their allegations.

In cross-examination counsel Michael Lynch, noted this complainant originally told police she was nine, but changed it to 13 when she asked police a year-and-a-half later to amend her formal statement.

Mr Lynch put it to her that was because after colluding with the other complainants the woman realised it was necessary. She denied this.

She reiterated her allegations had nothing to do with any land dispute.

(Proceeding)

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