Jury in caregiver abuse trial returns

By Imran Ali

The jury deliberating on a CYF caregiver being guilty will return to court.
The jury deliberating on a CYF caregiver being guilty will return to court.

The jury deliberating on the guilt or otherwise of a Northland CYF caregiver accused of physically and sexually abusing vulnerable children in his care will return to court this morning to continue their work.

Taite Hemi Kupa, 57, is on trial in the High Court at Whangarei facing nine counts of assaulting a child under 14, one of assaulting a female, three of raping a child under 16, nine of unlawful sexual connection with a child under 16, and one of attempted rape of a child under 16. Most of the charges relate to alleged offences in the Whangarei CYF family home he ran with his wife but one relates to an address in Kaitaia.

After his summing up on Tuesday, Justice Reynor Asher excused the jury and asked they return yesterday to start their deliberations.

However, the jury of eight-women, four-men could not reach verdicts after deliberating from about 9.30am to 5pm yesterday after which the judge asked them to retire and return to court this morning.

In his summing up to the jury early this week, Justice Asher spoke about the onus and standard of proving the charges and how they should approach their deliberation.

He said the jury should return a verdict of not guilty if, after a careful and impartial consideration of the evidence, a honest and reasonable uncertainty was left in their minds.

The jury should also consider evidence given in examination in chief and re-examination and to draw their own experience in life while assessing the credibility of witnesses, he said.

Justice Asher said there was nothing wrong with taking into account circumstantial evidence as they were conclusions drawn from proven facts. He emphasised the importance of the jury paying regard to the qualifications and experience of expert witnesses while bearing in mind that the trial was by jury rather then experts.

Just as feelings of sympathy and prejudice should be put to one side, he said any stories the jury may have read about the case through the media should also be ignored.

Justice Asher said the fact that Kupa chose to give evidence didn't change the onus of proving the charges from the Crown to him.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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