Accused a workaholic, ‘Superman’ says wife

Only defence witness says claims motivated by land interests.

Only defence witness says claims motivated by land interests.

The wife of a man accused of historical sexual offences against five of her younger female relatives, yesterday told a jury in Gisborne District Court the women’s allegations were a “slap in the face”.

The complainants were raised by her mother and father, who raised more than 20 children. The accused’s wife said she used to be quite close to two of the complainants - one regarded her as her mother and she had stepped in at a critical time to care for another’s newborn son.

But issues in recent years over family land and the emergence of this court case had changed those relationships, she said.

The complainants were motivated by land interests and were lying, the woman said. She trusted her husband ahead of them. If she thought he had done the things they claim, she would have let him go.

The accused elected to call his wife of 48 years as his only witness during day four of his jury trial yesterday in Gisborne District Court.

Today, the jury will hear closing addresses from prosecutor Jo Rielly and defence counsel Michael Lynch before retiring to consider their verdict.

The name of the man, now 75, is withheld as the complainants’ identities are protected by law.

At the close of the Crown case on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Harrop dismissed a charge of rape, for which he said there was no evidence.

The accused faces 11 remaining charges in relation to the five complainants — two of indecencies with girls under 12, two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, and six counts of indecencies with girls aged between 12 and 16.

In evidence, the man’s wife said the allegations were a slap in the face.

One of the complainants, who used to consider her as a mother, made it clear she wanted the accused gone from the land and sometimes even her too, the witness said.

Yet she was a shareholder, authorised to be there, and the biological daughter of the original land owner (the man who raised the complainants). She and her husband voluntarily paid rates on the property when it was not earning and no one else took any interest.

That same complainant had also referred to her and her husband in a Facebook post as “evil”,

The other complainant to whom she had previously been close, once asked her to travel three hours at short notice to collect her newborn baby when she could not cope.

The witness said she breastfed the baby boy and quickly bonded with him. She struggled four months later to give him back but had his mother to stay for a fortnight and supported the two of them to reconnect.

The witness negated the complainants’ recall of places where alleged offences (some as long ago as 50 years) were said to have occurred — some of the houses where she lived, a pig paddock, and a beachside caravan.

She denied the complainants were regularly at her house.

One of the women would run away and turn up there but she always took her straight home, the witness said.

The others knew the general layout of the house, albeit not accurately, because her son — who has a grievance with his father — told them.

The women were maligning the memory of her highly-protective father (who raised them) by suggesting he would have visited her house with them when so many young male labourers frequently stayed there.

Her husband was a workaholic, a “Superman”, the witness said. He was out all day, expected his dinner at 5pm, then went back outside to do a couple of hours more work. He would not have had time to commit these offences.

In cross-examination Mrs Rielly put it to the witness she knew well in advance of the trial the precise nature of the women’s allegations and had plenty of time to prepare for it. Her evidence was designed to minimise opportunities her husband might have had to commit the alleged offences.

The woman denied being shown any evidential documents but later admitted previously seeing the complainants’ rudimentary sketch plans of her house.

She confirmed she had prepared for the trial — by writing down answers to potential questions.

She believed the women colluded to fabricate stories about her husband in order to get him off family land. They had failed to exit him in other ways.

She was concerned an overhaul of the property’s trustees in 2017, including the election of two of the complainants, might result in revocation or changes to an occupation order she was issued by the Maori Land Court in 1995. It authorised her to live on a primely situated acre of the land with coastal views and easier beach access than elsewhere on the farm.

She conceded that she had recently being assured by the new trustees the order was lifelong, but said she still worried the terms of it could be changed (trustees can make application to the Maori Land Court) and that on her death, it would no longer pass to her immediate family.

Each of the complainants has told the jury their allegations are not related to family land disputes.

(Proceeding)

The wife of a man accused of historical sexual offences against five of her younger female relatives, yesterday told a jury in Gisborne District Court the women’s allegations were a “slap in the face”.

The complainants were raised by her mother and father, who raised more than 20 children. The accused’s wife said she used to be quite close to two of the complainants - one regarded her as her mother and she had stepped in at a critical time to care for another’s newborn son.

But issues in recent years over family land and the emergence of this court case had changed those relationships, she said.

The complainants were motivated by land interests and were lying, the woman said. She trusted her husband ahead of them. If she thought he had done the things they claim, she would have let him go.

The accused elected to call his wife of 48 years as his only witness during day four of his jury trial yesterday in Gisborne District Court.

Today, the jury will hear closing addresses from prosecutor Jo Rielly and defence counsel Michael Lynch before retiring to consider their verdict.

The name of the man, now 75, is withheld as the complainants’ identities are protected by law.

At the close of the Crown case on Wednesday, Judge Stephen Harrop dismissed a charge of rape, for which he said there was no evidence.

The accused faces 11 remaining charges in relation to the five complainants — two of indecencies with girls under 12, two attempted rapes, assault with intent to commit rape, and six counts of indecencies with girls aged between 12 and 16.

In evidence, the man’s wife said the allegations were a slap in the face.

One of the complainants, who used to consider her as a mother, made it clear she wanted the accused gone from the land and sometimes even her too, the witness said.

Yet she was a shareholder, authorised to be there, and the biological daughter of the original land owner (the man who raised the complainants). She and her husband voluntarily paid rates on the property when it was not earning and no one else took any interest.

That same complainant had also referred to her and her husband in a Facebook post as “evil”,

The other complainant to whom she had previously been close, once asked her to travel three hours at short notice to collect her newborn baby when she could not cope.

The witness said she breastfed the baby boy and quickly bonded with him. She struggled four months later to give him back but had his mother to stay for a fortnight and supported the two of them to reconnect.

The witness negated the complainants’ recall of places where alleged offences (some as long ago as 50 years) were said to have occurred — some of the houses where she lived, a pig paddock, and a beachside caravan.

She denied the complainants were regularly at her house.

One of the women would run away and turn up there but she always took her straight home, the witness said.

The others knew the general layout of the house, albeit not accurately, because her son — who has a grievance with his father — told them.

The women were maligning the memory of her highly-protective father (who raised them) by suggesting he would have visited her house with them when so many young male labourers frequently stayed there.

Her husband was a workaholic, a “Superman”, the witness said. He was out all day, expected his dinner at 5pm, then went back outside to do a couple of hours more work. He would not have had time to commit these offences.

In cross-examination Mrs Rielly put it to the witness she knew well in advance of the trial the precise nature of the women’s allegations and had plenty of time to prepare for it. Her evidence was designed to minimise opportunities her husband might have had to commit the alleged offences.

The woman denied being shown any evidential documents but later admitted previously seeing the complainants’ rudimentary sketch plans of her house.

She confirmed she had prepared for the trial — by writing down answers to potential questions.

She believed the women colluded to fabricate stories about her husband in order to get him off family land. They had failed to exit him in other ways.

She was concerned an overhaul of the property’s trustees in 2017, including the election of two of the complainants, might result in revocation or changes to an occupation order she was issued by the Maori Land Court in 1995. It authorised her to live on a primely situated acre of the land with coastal views and easier beach access than elsewhere on the farm.

She conceded that she had recently being assured by the new trustees the order was lifelong, but said she still worried the terms of it could be changed (trustees can make application to the Maori Land Court) and that on her death, it would no longer pass to her immediate family.

Each of the complainants has told the jury their allegations are not related to family land disputes.

(Proceeding)

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