Accused cop admits touching breast

By Sam Hurley

Adam Dunnett (left), outside Napier Courthouse, with lawyer Jonathan Krebs. Photo / HBT
Adam Dunnett (left), outside Napier Courthouse, with lawyer Jonathan Krebs. Photo / HBT

A Hawkes Bay police officer accused of multiple counts of indecent assault says he twice touched a teenager's breast but was convinced it was "consensual", a court has heard.

Adam Dunnett, a 37-year-old community constable, took the witness stand today on day four of his trial in Napier District Court. He broke down in tears while giving evidence in his own defence.

He now faces nine counts of indecent assault on five teenage girls between 2011 and 2013, after it was determined this morning a lack of evidence was presented for one of the charges, relating to a 2011 party at the Ocean Beach Surf Life Saving Club.

Shaking vigorously in the witness box, Dunnett recalled a Christmas Eve party at the surf club in 2011.

He said after arriving at the beach he was persuaded by the complainant in the incident to spend the night at the club house.

"Eventually I agreed to stay but had to go back into town to get a change of gear. [The complainant] asked if I could buy her some alcohol. I was not eager to buy alcohol and felt uncomfortable because I was a cop."

He said he was "talked into it" and returned with three bottles of wine for the teenager and her friend, who is also another complainant in the trial.

As the evening progressed, Dunnett said he began talking and "joking" with the complainant about her boyfriend and a prior conversation they had had about her future with the boyfriend.

Dunnett said he had "jokingly" told her the only way to break up with him was to "cheat" on him.

"She was crying, so I put my arm around her in a consoling way."

He added the complainant later followed him downstairs and into a bunk room and while still crying said: "I'll have to get an older boyfriend next time."

"That's a good idea, older boyfriends will make you feel fantastic," Dunnett told the court he said in response, but was adamant he didn't try to kiss her as the complainant had testified.

Dunnett said he made a suggestive sexual comment. The complainant then said to him: "Can you wait until everyone's gone to bed."

Believing at some stage the two would become "intimate" he asked her in the club kitchen, "yay or nay?"

To which he said she responded "yes".

Later in the night he tried to find the complainant, and discovered her asleep in a bunk room with a number for others.

He said he woke her by placing his hand on her knee, and when she woke said, "I'll lay there with you" before climbing behind her and placing his hand on her breast.

"Are you ok," he said. "Shhh, be quiet," he recalled as her response.

He said he touched her breast a second time and asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else, to which she replied "no", before another person in the room turned on the light.

"I didn't want to be found in that situation," he told the court.

He said throughout the day the complainant had been "playful and flirty" with him and he thought his actions "would be a consenting thing".

Earlier in the day defence lawyer Jonathan Krebs submitted that one of the complainants, during her testimony as a Crown witness, did not give evidence regarding an alleged indecent assault in 2011.

Despite another witness giving evidence about the episode, the Crown did not appose the application and Judge Les Atkins QC said the count would be discharged and would not proceed with "no evidence to support it".

Mr Krebs attempted to have another charge dismissed from a separate episode but failed to convince Judge Atkins to do so.

Dunnett remains on the witness stand and the trial continues.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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