Jury finds former St John ambulance officer guilty on all eight sex charges

By Sam Hurley

Also found to have breached the trust paramedics around NZ have rightfully earned.

Christopher King's crimes are offensive to ambulance officers nationwide
Christopher King's crimes are offensive to ambulance officers nationwide

Hidden beneath the "protective cloak" of a St John uniform was Christopher Roger King, a sexual predator who arrogantly selected, gassed and traumatised his patients.

King, 48, was not who he tried to portray throughout the trial. The "unluckiest" ambulance officer in the country.

He failed in his bid to convince 12 of his peers the "perfect storm of unreliable complaints" was created when four "unfortunate events occurred", as suggested by his defence counsel.

Yesterday at Napier District Court, the former Waipukurau St John officer was not only found guilty of all the eight sex charges he faced, but also of breaching the trust all St John officers have rightly earned.

A breach which "outraged" paramedics across New Zealand.

King was a respected member of the Central Hawke's Bay community.

He married his current wife two years ago, began his career with St John as a volunteer in 2007 and later became a paid staff member in 2009.

His sudden fall from a position of trust gathered momentum when he resigned in August last year, following the growing string of allegations against him.

King staunchly denied all the crimes he committed, describing them during his police interview late last year as "bullshit". But he appeared visibly anxious and frightened yesterday when the foreman read out his fate and King learned he will likely spend years behind bars.

Christopher Roger King, 48, was not who he tried to portray - the "unluckiest" ambulance officer in the country.
Christopher Roger King, 48, was not who he tried to portray - the "unluckiest" ambulance officer in the country.

King was last seen when he re-entered the court in a seemingly agitated state, only to hear his sentencing date, December 18, from Judge Geoff Rea, before he was remanded in custody.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning told the jury "either these women are lying, or Mr King is lying".

The truth was King targeted four "vulnerable" women between 2010 and 2013 and "used [his] uniform for his sexual advantage".

Each of the women were in need of medical aid. They included a teenager just beaten by her boyfriend, a woman suffering depression and threatening to harm herself, a young woman with a terminal illness, and a woman who suffers from temporary paralysis.

Mr Manning described how shocked King's victims were as he "confused what would have been genuine medical touching with sexual touching".

"In particular he took advantage of his trusted position as an ambulance officer. Who wouldn't trust a member of St John?" Mr Manning asked.

On day one of the trial the jurors were taken back to July 24, 2013, when a then-15-year-old teenage girl phoned 111 in a desperate plea for help.

The court was played the distressing emergency call, which came just moments after the teen had been the victim of a domestic assault.

Almost eerily foreseeing King's intentions, she was apprehensive about being transported by the burly man, who arrived as the lone ambulance officer to take her to the Waipukurau Medical Centre.

The medical centre where the teen Christopher King first picked up was taken to.
The medical centre where the teen Christopher King first picked up was taken to.

The ambulance travelled for 10 minutes after leaving the home at 3pm, before in "bizarre" fashion King stopping on the side of the road, near Waipawa.

Then, during a 10-minute window, King administered Entonox, a pain-relief gas, making the girl drowsy before he first violated and filmed her with his cell phone.

The ambulance arrived at the medical centre, where King's wife worked, at 3.26pm and during the 4.40 minutes the ambulance was parked outside, King again violated and filmed the teen.

The jury found the "digital footprint" evidence on King's cellphone undeniable. It showed King created two videos at 3.15:29pm and again at 3.27:11pm.

The data also showed the second video was deleted at 3.31:13pm, while the first video was deleted five seconds later at 3.31:18pm. Proof, in the jurors' eyes, that King made an unavailing effort to hide the evidence.

The jurors simply didn't believe King when he said he "accidentally" made the recordings, which captured nothing more than a "blank screen".

Mr Manning stated it was at this moment King met "[his] match in the form of a 15-year-old with a stroppy attitude", referring to when the teenager dramatically burst from the ambulance yelling "keep him away".

It was those few minutes which led to the police investigation, headed by Detective Grant Jarvis, and ultimately the eight convictions King now has against his name.

During the nine-day trial a fluent timeline was created by Mr Manning, as the remaining three victims' stories were finally heard.

On June 23, 2013 a 57-year-old woman slipped in the shower. She was violated by King on her way to Hawke's Bay Hospital.

A "bold" and "arrogant" King then "bombarded" the woman with intimate text messages and phone calls, confident, as Mr Manning said, that the word of a St John officer would be believed over a mental health patient.

On March 29, 2012, a terminally ill 23-year-old woman required transporting to hospital for treatment.

The woman had travelled in an ambulance on 37 separate occasions as she fought a debilitating disease, but sadly told police, from her sick bed in 2013, she had been molested by King.

She passed away in February this year.

Finally the jury heard from a 43-year-old Waipukurau woman, who suffers from a paralysis disorder in times of stress.

King was one of three ambulance officers to arrive at the home and treat the woman in February 2010.

On the way to the hospital King violated her, resulting in the woman's left side being temporarily paralysed from shock.

It was revealed in court that King's late second wife had suffered a stroke, a fact which should have drawn more compassion for the 43-year-old.

Police initially elected not to press charges, however, the woman wrote a letter of complaint to St John.

St John district operations manager for Hawke's Bay, Stephen Smith, said St John undertook its own internal investigation following the incident.

King was spoken to but the complaint could not be substantiated and the case was closed.

After further allegations were revealed about King's treatment of patients, the woman pressed charges against him.

Mr Smith and his colleagues felt justice had been served following yesterday's verdict.

"There has been a great deal of concern by everybody at St John," he said.

"St John is pleased that justice has been served and Christopher King will serve time for his crimes."

"We are outraged by his actions; they are completely unacceptable and our thoughts are with the victims and their families."

King's crimes are offensive to ambulance officers nation-wide who are out there every day serving their communities and saving lives, he added.

"Patient care and safety is paramount and we want to reassure the public they can continue to have trust and confidence when calling for an ambulance."

As St John moves on from the high profile case, Mr Smith hopes New Zealanders realise Christopher King is one individual and not representative of St John paramedics.

"His actions are extremely offensive to our 4500 ambulance officers who have chosen their profession to help and care for people in need, not harm them.

"St John values the trust and confidence of the public and we hope the criminal actions of this individual have not affected the public's view of us."

Relief also washed over King's victims as the word guilty echoed through the courtroom eight times yesterday, Detective Jarvis said.

"[They] had the courage to come forward to police and endure a lengthy trial.

"This has obviously been a very stressful time for these women and we acknowledge the courage it has taken to give evidence in court.

"We appreciate what they have done to enable us to bring this man to justice," he said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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